Learning from His Father

Chef Guy Fieri talks about why his father is his greatest inspiration.

By Guy Fieri, Food Network

As appeared in

Who’s my greatest inspiration?

No, it’s not a chef, though I’ve met some awesome cooks road-tripping across the country…you know, the ones at mom-and-pop joints who serve up crazy-good food. And sure, there are football players and movie stars who make me think, Wow, he’s a cool guy.

But real greatness? That I find closer to home. My biggest inspiration, the best role model this Guy could ever hope for…it’s my dad, hands down.

I grew up in Ferndale, California, a little dairy town north of San Francisco with a historic Main Street, and quaint Victorian houses. We moved there in the early seventies—the last stop in a meandering migration from Columbus, Ohio.

My parents might’ve looked like hippies with their long hair and green van, but they were old school when it came to values. They were big on hard work, responsibility, persistence. And they believed that if you’d been given a dream, it was worth exploring.

They did it themselves, opening a country-western clothing store in town, even though neither of them had experience in retail. Mom had been a teacher and dental assistant. Dad had served in the submarine corps. I loved hearing stories from his Navy days and colorful episodes from his own growing-up years in coal-mining country.

“Don’t let the specifics get in the way of a good story,” Dad likes to say.

My parents bought an old house in Ferndale. Dad fixed it up, learning as he went. He put my sister and me to work too. Dad loves to tell the story of the time we built a deck. He’d tacked all the boards in place. They just needed to be nailed off. That was my job. I had my hammer and I was pounding big 16-penny nails into the wood. Sure, I was only six, but Dad had taught me well—those nails were going in straight!

Some family friends came over for dinner and saw me. “What the heck is Guy doing?” they asked my dad.

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Your Comments (4)

Great story. I am also a fan of your shows. Only problem with the moral of that story is, now our kids can't have that lemonaide stand or the pretzel cart without a license from the government! The only morals our kids are getting is that the government is there to take of you, except when you really need it, such as FEMA with hurricane Sandy.

What a great story to share, I to love diners, drive in and dives. I have a dream to open my own home cooking restaurant right here in my little town on the wa peninsula and I believe as you say Guy ur dreams can come true and I have this passion to do this sinse I was young and I am getting closer ..and ur show has helped me so much and I to will make good old comfort and freash homemade food..thanks for your inspiration to me to continue going forward with my dream.....:)

Guy's show is "scrumptuous!" My wife Liz (who is disabled
since 2010 - & it breaks my heart) and I salivate watch-
ing his shows and the awesome, delicious-looking dishes
he discovers. When he samples them, well...we WANT SOME!
We always have LOVED the diners & "holes in the wall" eateries when we have travelled..always preferred!
And, Guy, the fact that my Dad, now gone, was named Guy,
makes ur show very special to me. Oh..& my daughter gave
me a copy of your paperback, put out a few years ago.
Keep showin' the good stuff, in those "far away places."
They are America, and so are you.

Guy Fieri's Triple D is a staple in our house. We've been watching him on the Food Network since they discovered him. Now I know why he's so awesome. God bless the Dads of the world, and God bless "Jamps" Fieri, for doing their jobs right.