The Knuckle Sandwich knife set is by Guy Fieri. I bought my dad one in the series because, like me, he enjoys wielding a big, sharp knife. (In the kitchen, mostly.) I also enjoy the sheer flashiness of the Knuckle Sandwich design. They’re knives that make a statement.
Why I am bringing this up now? Well, it seems there’s a review of the new Guy Fieri restaurant in Times Square, and it is, um, not effusive. Which makes me kinda sad, because Guy Fieri has always struck me as a perfectly nice guy with a genuine appreciation for the homestyle and artisanal-style cooking he samples on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” I have a soft spot for people who have a coked-up-puppy-style appreciation for their passions, and Guy has always seemed over-the-moon happy about the fact that he gets to sample so much mom and pop cooking from around the country. I relate to that; I’d love to do the same.
I read the hit piece with a bit of hesitation, because Guy Fieri is a popular celebrity chef/dude-bro kinda guy and I was afraid that this would cloud the reviewer’s judgement. But I was relieved that Mr. Wells condemned the food and the service and didn’t make any “cult of personality” accusations about Guy or his fans. It was not a cheap shot at people who might like the man. (Not because I am a huge fan myself. I’ve actually never tasted his food or tried his recipes, mostly because they all contain about 1,000 ingredients, which is a big pet peeve of mine. I don’t think you need to stick your pantry in a dish to make it taste good.) I appreciated the straightforward review because hatin’ on folks from The Food Network can sometimes morph into a kind of snobbery I don’t have much of an appreciation for. But this was a fair critique.
Snobbery’s a funny thing, because I think some forms of it can be good. Snobbery can be a stand-in for discernment; snobbery can be in instructive. But I find the best way to be instructive using snobbery is to be a good snob: like what you like firmly and pleasantly, and say why you like things in a way that avoids hyperbole and trashing others’ likes. That’s not to say you can’t dislike something unabashedly. I just feel certain there’s a way to trash a restaurant or a movie or an artist without trashing its fans.
Which in a very, very convoluted, roundabout way brings me to this discussion, which seems to have evolved into a conversation about hipsters and the concepts of hipness and coolness. Why does this particular discussion never fail to fascinate and generate such impassioned responses?