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The 12 Days of Guy Fieri: Diners, Drive-ins and Do-Gooding

A brief history of the Triple D host’s charitable endeavors and volunteer efforts

Lead image: Ethan Miller/Getty Images; Entertainment/Getty Images; Kevork Djansezian/Stringer. Illustration by Eater.
Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

When he’s not giving the gift of cable television exposure to mom-and-pop establishments on Triple D, or playing puppet master in a race through the freezer aisles on Guy’s Grocery Games, Guy Fieri is always finding other ways to warm the hearts of Donkey Sauce lovers across America. In times of trouble, the mayor of Flavortown always seems right around the corner with a hot meal for those in need. On this, the fifth day of The 12 Days of Guy Fieri, we look back at the moments that made Guy Fieri more than just a television host. Here, now, is a breakdown of Guy’s many good deeds.

Fieri lays the foundation

A young Fieri at the original pretzel cart

What does a television cooking show host do with all that Food Network cash? In 2010, Fieri started Cooking With Kids (CWK), a foundation that funds programs around the country teaching kids about cooking. The foundation also designs and builds pretzel carts that cooking programs use to teach kids about food entrepreneurship. Why pretzel carts? That’s how Fieri’s journey in food began.

Man on a mission

Following its first season, Fieri’s fast-paced competition show Guy’s Grocery Games relocated production from Field’s Market in West Hills, California, to a dedicated grocery store set in Santa Rosa, California. The Flavortown Market set is located in a 15,500-square-foot warehouse and was built in just two weeks. Because it was built for a cooking show, the Flavortown Market functions just like a regular market — sans cashiers of course.

It’s stocked with fresh foods. Just like food at the regular grocery store, items on the set eventually expire. But Fieri and his production team don’t let the Flavortown ingredients go to waste. “We take all of the groceries that are going to expire before they do and we donate them to the mission in our town of Santa Rosa, Northern California,” Fieri recently told Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show.

It’s not a typical donation either. As the Redwood Gospel Mission told the North Bay Business Journal in 2015, the Flavortown Market is the mission’s largest donor, delivering soon-to-expire items five days a week throughout the four months that Guy’s Grocery Games films. The set also provides some of the best ingredients — think fresh veggies and fruits, as well as pork, beef, chicken, and even Peking duck. “It’s of a quality we don’t typically get from other donations,” Keys said. “It’s really noticed by the homeless population.”

Fieri as officiant

In a resounding rebuke of critics of same-sex marriage, Guy Fieri served as an officiant at a massive wedding for “more than two dozen same-sex couples on Miami Beach” in February 2015. The event, which followed the repeal of Florida’s same-sex marriage ban a month earlier, was hosted by chef, cookbook author, and former right-hand man to Oprah, Art Smith. Fieri happened to be in town for the South Beach Food & Wine Festival at the time and presided over the nuptials for 101 couples, in a purple suit no less. The event occurred four years after the host was accused by a former producer of being homophobic, claims which his team (and other people close to the production) vehemently denied.

Fighting fire with food

Guy Fieri has stepped in year after year to help feed communities impacted by wildfires. In October 2017, the Santa Rosa resident and his family were among fire evacuees. During the crisis, he and his crew set up a makeshift barbecue mess hall in front of the city’s Veterans Memorial Building. Fieri’s team, in partnership with non-profit Operation BBQ Relief, fed approximately 5,000 fire evacuees, first responders, and military personnel per day. “This isn’t a PR stunt,” Fieri told KQED. “You don’t see my banners up. I’m not promoting anything. I’m just here cooking. This is feeding people. People need help, and I’m here to help. That’s it.”

Beginning in August 2018 amid the devastating and tragic the Carr Fire, Fieri was joined by fellow renowned chef José Andrés to feed victims and first responders. Fieri’s team was able to serve approximately 2,000 meals per day during the disaster, before Andrés’ World Central Kitchen joined in. Fieri’s efforts were praised in November by the Butte County Sheriffs office, when he returned again to serve dinner to law enforcement aiding in the battle against the Camp Fire — by that time the deadliest fire in the nation’s history.