Guy Fieri is licking his wounds after the New York Times eviscerated his new Times Square restaurant on Wednesday, calling critic Pete Wells' review of Guy's American Kitchen and Bar "ridiculous" and "so overboard."
"I mean, I've read reviews —- there's good and there's bad in the restaurant business, but that to me went so overboard, it really seemed like there was another agenda," Fieri told "Today."
Wells took down the Food Network star's 500-seat emporium with 34 rhetorical questions, including "Why did the toasted marshmallow taste like fish?" "When we hear the words Donkey Sauce, which part of the donkey are we supposed to think about?" and "When you hung that sign by the entrance that says, WELCOME TO FLAVOR TOWN! were you just messing with our heads?"
Maybe Fieri can take heart in the fact that he's not the only successful Food Network star to get slammed by food critics and esthetes. Bad donkey sauce be damned, Fieri made $8 million last year, according to Forbes, thanks to his TV presence and restaurant chains.
According to BuzzFeed food editor Emily Fleischaker, the discontent stems from the seeming disparity between the time Fieri and his Food Network cohorts spend on screen versus the hours they log in real kitchens (read: not TV sets).
"Other food writers tend to have a negative attitude about celebrity chefs who spend no time in their own kitchen," she said. "They're sort of ignoring and skipping the part of being a chef that is not at all glamorous. You don't make a lot of money in the beginning. And part of it is just that these people are in your face all the time."
In any case, Fieri can simmer and stew with these folks:
Butter lovers the world over consider Deen their queen, and peddling in high-fat foods has made her rich. According to Forbes, she made $17 million last year. But the Food Network star has long been criticized for her gut-busting recipes, no more so than when she revealed her type 2 diabetes diagnosis and endorsement deal with diabetes drug maker Novo Nordisk in January.
"No Reservations" host Anthony Bourdain slammed her on Twitter, and later told ABCNews.com, "I think she's being disingenuous. Let's call it what it is. This is a big company that rolled out a new product, a diabetes drug, [with someone who was] selling doughnuts to children for years. I thought it was in bad taste. I made some cracks about it, and I walked into the whirlwind."
Jose Andres, who won the James Beard Foundation's coveted Outstanding Chef Award this year, put it simply to CBS, saying, "I don't think that what Paula Deen did is the right thing. If I was her, I would go forward, and I will be telling people maybe what we did over the last 10 years maybe was not the right thing."
Deen defended herself, telling The Associated Press, "I am who I am. But what I will be doing is offering up lighter versions of my recipes. But you know, I'm Southern by roots. I was taught [to cook] by my grandmother and nothing I can do would change that."
The "30 Minute Meals" host turned media maven has been skewered by many in the food industry. In a 2009 interview with ABC's "Nightline," Martha Stewart memorably chastised Ray for putting out "a new cookbook which is just a re-edit of a lot of her old recipes. That's not good enough for me," Stewart said. "She's different. She's -- she's more of an entertainer … than she is a teacher, like me."
"There's so much backlash against Rachael Ray, which is sad because she's such a lovely, likable person," Fleischaker said. "It's partly because she takes a lot of shortcuts and because she's stretched herself out with the magazine and the shows."
But Ray may have had the last laugh. Her daytime talk show continues to draw ratings, while the Hallmark Channel pulled the plug on Stewart's in January.
Like everyone else on this list, the "Semi-Homemade" host is a favorite target of Bourdain (he once called her "pure evil"), but it's worth noting the more reasonable criticisms of Lee. Many of her recipes cite specific brand names -- McCormick spices, Ocean Spray cranberry sauce -- which Fleischaker views as disingenuous product placement.
"If you look at the ingredient list from her most recent cookbook, the brand names are all over the place," she said. "Why would you tell people to use RealLemon in a recipe instead of squeezing an actual lemon?"
In a March interview with the New York Times, Lee called her naysayers "snobs," saying "I'm not sure that some of the food purists are in touch with what really goes on in American households."