The Mayor of Flavortown has made a surprise appearance in the Bayou City.
Superstar chef and TV personality Guy Fieri has been in Houston over the weekend filming at local restaurants for potential inclusion in upcoming episodes of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives — and serving a four-star birthday dinner to a major TV star.
Both a Food Network representative and a member of the production team confirmed Fieri’s presence in the city. However, the Food Network rep couldn’t say when episodes featuring the Houston restaurants might air or even guarantee the footage would be used in future episodes.
To track Fieri’s appearances, CultureMap relied on interviews with diners who were present at the tapings. They observed Fieri’s presence at the establishments and spoke to members of his production crew about other places they visited. Based on those and other conversations, CultureMap has identified at least five Houston restaurants Fieri visited:
- Fresco Cafe Italiano, an Italian restaurant near Greenway Plaza known for its freshly made pasta
- The Pit Room, the Montrose barbecue joint that blends Tex-Mex elements like tortillas and queso with smoked meats
- The Toasted Coconut, the tiki-inspired bar and restaurant from the owners of Nobie’s
- Traveler’s Table, the Montrose restaurant that serves notable dishes from many of the world’s most prominent culinary traditions
- Weights + Measures, the Midtown restaurant and bakery that serves pastas, breads, and pizzas from doughs it makes in-house
All of the restaurants issued polite no comments to CultureMap’s inquiries (as required by non-disclosure agreements), but both The Toasted Coconut and The Pit Room now feature Fieri’s autograph on their walls as proof of his recent presence.
In addition to filming television episodes, Fieri also prepared a special birthday dinner for TV actor Lee Majors, star of The Six Million Dollar Man and The Fall Guy. Both Majors’ wife Faith and Houston attorney Tony Buzbee shared pictures from the dinner on social media.
The meal began with caviar and Caesar salad followed by a Texas-style surf and turf of 44 Farms tomahawk ribeye, Gulf snapper Veracruz, and shrimp scampi.
“A big heartfelt thank you to our good friend @guyfieri for making #leemajors birthday extra special! You’re the #realdeal,” Faith Majors tweeted.
Fieri last filmed Houston restaurants for potential appearances on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives in January 2017. That trip included: Tex-Mex restaurant the Original Irma's, Jamaican restaurant Cool Runnings, Galleria-area Lebanese restaurant Cafe Lili, West Houston favorite The Original Marini's Empanada House, and Q-Shi, the Spring restaurant that blends barbecue and sushi.
CultureMap had the opportunity to speak with Fieri about the show when he hosted a luxury tailgate before Super Bowl LI. He reflected on the benefits being on the show can have for restaurants.
“Being a chef and a restaurant owner myself, what the show does for people, it changes lives. We call it the Triple D effect,” Fieri said at the time. “I’m just a dude going to cool joints. They make it easy on me. All I do is shine the light. I appreciate all the accolades, but it’s not about me at all. It’s really about these amazing places. We need to support these mom and pop joints.”
Fieri continued that goal of supporting restaurants throughout the coronavirus pandemic by helping to raise over $22 million for unemployed hospitality workers.