The untold truth of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives

We're rolling out! Looking to tell you everything you need to know about Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Whether you're a big fan or a Guy basher, you need to know the whole story behind how Triple D went from practically nothing to a flagship show for Food Network. It's carrying the torch for a network that advertisers count on; it's the top cable network with a demographic that is likely to purchase what is being advertised on the network. And that burden falls on a guy who just fell into the job.

The pilot was basically a one-shot show

The Hearty Boys became famous for a brief time in 2005. Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh won Season 1 of Food Networks Next Food Network Star reality show. They had a show on Food Network — Party Line with the Hearty Boys — for a little more than a year. Still doesn't ring a bell? Don't feel bad if you don't remember them. Most winners of Next Food Network Star don't seem to go on to actually become stars … with one big exception.

Guy Fieri and his frosted tips won Season 2 of Next Food Network Star, which led to his own show, Guy's Big Bite. Around that same time, David Page had an idea for a program that would focus on diners, drive-ins, and dive restaurants. The Food Network powers decided to give Guy a shot at hosting. The pilot took 21 days to shoot. The core of the show is there and it certainly has the feel of what Diners, Drive-ins and Dives became, but it's still a little raw in presentation. Despite that, the hour-long special did well enough to lead to a full season.

How they find those funky joints

Have you ever been to a restaurant and thought, "This place should be on Triple D!" Well, there's an easy way to throw your favorite local joint into the fray. The Triple D website has a submission page, complete with a running tab of fan write-ups. Guy Fieri's own site also accepts suggestions in case you simply couldn't make your way over to the show's site.

Another method used is a bit less arbitrary. Often, when honing in on a town, producers will contact food writers to find out what places serve up the best grub. That helps reveal some excellent hidden gems. The theme they're looking for is pretty basic: something off the wall. As Guy often says, "If it's funky, we'll find it." Generally, an ethnic place in an unexpected spot works. Fusion restaurants are also popular. But not like a Scottish place serving American fare. (McDonald's?) It would be more in the range of Abdullah the Butcher's old restaurant.

Guy was a Ferry

A keen ear will notice that Guy pronounces his name "Fee-et-tee," whereas Fieri seems like it would have an "r" sound instead of a "t." Sure, Guy might not be pronouncing it correctly, but in proper Italian, the "eri" makes a similar double-tap sound that sounds like a "dd" or "tt." Guy's pronunciation is all his own; he grew up a Ferry.

Born in 1968 to Lewis and Penny Ferry, Guy decided to honor his great-grandfather by changing the name back to its original Italian, Fieri, as opposed to the Americanized Ferry. It was Guy's grandfather Louis who took the original name and gave it an American twist. Guy's great-grandfather Giuseppe, aka Joseph, is the recipient of the honor. In the 1920 census you can see both Louis and Joseph — you'll note the spelling (Ferie) is a bit closer to Fieri but off a bit. (That could just be the census taker misspelling the name.) But listed right there is Joseph with his birthplace of Italy. In 1940, Great-Grandpa still used Fieri (or close enough with the census taker's spelling), whereas Grandpa Louis went by Ferry.

Filming takes a few days

You probably realized that Guy doesn't literally roll up to a diner, drive-in, or dive, hop out, and start dropping catchphrases and hunching over to disconnect his lower jaw to scarf down a meal. Recording television programs takes time.

The general idea is to hit as many locations in a city as possible, although most probably won't air in the same episode. A crew will arrive at the chosen restaurant a few days or so before Fieri to get some required close-ups and general cooking. When you notice that Guy is narrating the chefs' actions during those 48-hour sequences of smoking meat, it's because they already filmed most of the prep work. The shooting follows a tight script, but there is some improv. That madcap, off-the-cuff wit is all Guy doing his thing, playing off the situation, and coming up with the yucks.

Restaurants get very popular after

Should your restaurant make it on the show, get ready for the wave. Southern Soul Barbecue on St. Simons Island, Georgia, didn't believe it when told to "be ready for a 200 percent increase in business." But you know what? It happened. The allure of eating at a joint where Guy ate is great, and the show has paid tribute to fans who travel around just to visit as many Triple D restaurants as possible. Triple D restaurants generally let everyone know they were on the show, as it's a badge of honor of sorts for good, funky food. Even the Food Network official site plays up the food in delicious click-bait form. But to the restaurant it's just another chance at free publicity; basically if you land on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, you're being handed a golden goose.

Some restaurants don't make it

But you know what? It's easy to mess up goose. Nothing in life is guaranteed, and even a visit from the Frosted Tips Fairy (Ferry?) can't keep everything going. A significant number of Triple D alums have shuttered their doors. Of course, that's out of Triple D's control; it's not Guy's fault the keg had mold in it. But when you think about it, at over 260 episodes and three restaurants per episode, the quick math says around 800 restaurants made an appearance. You're bound to have a few close down through the years.

Cracking the Guy Code

If there's one universally justifiable annoyance, it's Guy's sanguine reactions. It seems like Guy would go to hell and rave about how warm it was. The only thing Guy will admittedly bash is eggs; he just doesn't like 'em. But is Guy truly raving about the food, or is he subliminally telling you what he really thinks?

Some people think there's a Guy Code: tiny little ticks, words, and reactions to tell you what he really thinks. If Guy takes a big bite and immediately starts talking about the decor of the place, or the plates, or how tall the chef is, the dish is probably low-grade dog food. Occasionally, Guy will actually cook the meal for the chef in a different way than the chef did. He's essentially saying, "Do it this way." That's a dead giveaway it was awful. If the bite invokes a listing of the spices, it's probably a good idea that just doesn't taste good. It's almost like he's telling the viewer, "Use these but don't make it like this."

So if he really likes the dish? There are two stages of Guy nirvana. The first is an extra bite. If Guy only takes one bite, there's a good chance he didn't like the dish. If he takes two, you can guarantee it's a winner. Guy will suddenly start talking about how good he feels while eating the dish. If Guy takes it a step further, he gives "that look" — maybe asking the chef to hold and cuddle him — that's an award-winning dish. Guy will often openly proclaim that he wished he came up with a dish or will say he's "stealing" it. Those are the places you simply must try because that's the top of the Triple D mountain.

The red convertible

Practically every episode begins with a red convertible cruising down an unsuspecting piece of earth. Inside the sweet ride. a voice bellows, "I'm Guy Fieri AND I'M NOT SHOUTING!" The car sets the tone for what the show is going for; that cool, hip vibe that screams, "You want all of this."

The regular car is a 1968 Chevrolet Camaro with a ZZ502 crate engine under the hood. Packing 505 horsepower and 567 foot-pounds of torque, it's no wonder Guy shouts. There are car nuts that tune in just to see Guy's ride. Those same car nuts also know something that only those with a keen eye caught: there have been two red Camaros. The original was a 1967 Chevrolet Camaro. In the early days, they actually drove the '67 Camaro to the restaurants from city to city. Nowadays, they ship the '68 Camaro. Guy owns the current Camaro, while a former producer owned the original. And his story is part of the reason why there's a new car.

It had an ugly lawsuit with a producer

Calling David Page simply a producer is quite an insult. At worst he is the creator of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, and at his very worst he's the ultimate thorn in the side of Guy Fieri. From its pilot episode, Page served as executive producer up to Season 11. Page came from a news background, has a couple Emmys on his CV, and had a rep for being a bit confrontational. Seemingly out of the blue — in his mind at least — Fieri stopped taking his calls and didn't show for voice-over recordings. The next thing Page knew, he was fired. And he blamed Guy.

Page did something as all-American as a drive-in; he sued the daylights out of Food Network and Fieri. In an equally American-as-a-diner move, Food Network countersued to the tune of $1.5 million. The Food Network claim said Page was such a jerk that working with him became intolerable. Page basically said it was all Guy's fault because he didn't show up to do his job. As it usually happens in these situations, the two sides settled and the show went on without Page. But it did do a bit of damage to the Guy Fieri brand.

Anthony Bourdain still hates Guy

Sometimes vitriol becomes sublime. Guy Fieri is not a chef, he has a B.A. in hotel management from UNLV yet managed to beat out pro chefs on a reality show to become famous. It seems like the kind of story people want to happen: the little guy who has a face for radio becomes the TV star and takes over the world.

Instead, it is required that if you have a voice in media you must detest Guy Fieri. The infamous New York Times beatdown of a Fieri property in Times Square is more known for getting Guy than what the column really says. But let's be real, you're nothing unless perpetual sourpuss Anthony Bourdain calls you a douche. Bourdain hating Fieri is the ultimate "dog bites man" headline. But when Bourdain says he has no hate for Guy? Man bites dog. Sure he called him "low-hanging fruit," but for a guy who makes Larry David look like an eternal optimist, a semi-mea culpa is a miracle.

Then two months later, Bourdain declared that Guy was as "worthy of a solid and maybe relentless mocking as anyone." Well, that was fun while it lasted. Guy is generally on the high road when it comes to Bourdain and other critics. Fieri will let off a "gotta have issues" retort about Bourdain, but do you expect Guy to really get that salty about Bourdain? He won't even criticize a bad meal. Maybe he should just note how Bourdain dresses and we'll read between the Triple D lines and get it.

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