In Sunday's New York Times, Public Editor Margaret Sullivan took on the matter of Guy Fieri. Or more specifically, Sullivan took on the matter of the wonderfully horrible, totally delicious viral review that Pete Wells gave to the Food Network star's Times Square restaurant, Guy's American Kitchen & Bar, on November 13. Less than two weeks later, that review, structured as rhetorical not-exactly Socratic questions to Guy Fieri, has been shared countless times and blessed with more than 1,000 comments. It's sparked defenses to combat the excoriation of Fieri and led to his appearance on the Today show, where Star Jones sided with him, and he had the opportunity to defend himself against Wells, whom he accused of having an agenda.
In the wake of all that, Sullivan discusses "exuberant pans," as coined by New York Times Culture Editor Jonathan Landman. These are "reviews so energetically negative that they seem to achieve liftoff. They blast into the media world with cosmic force. Everyone wants to talk about them in a 'did you see that?' way. Sometimes," Sullivan continues, "they become instant classics. And, it goes almost without saying, the critic’s fun is inversely proportional to how it feels on the receiving end." Fieri was none too happy with Wells' review; at the very least, his public response to it wouldn't reveal otherwise. Yet it's worth saying that Fieri is probably quite good at being strategic in marketing and everything else—you don't get to where he is, frosted tips and all, without some serious savvy. So did he really feel bad? We can only guess. Sullivan also tells us that Wells went in wanting to write a pro-Fieri review, despite knowing exactly what kind of restaurant he was getting himself into. Of course that didn't happen, to everyone's enjoyment.