The Transformation Of Guy Fieri From 10 To 53

The Mayor of Flavortown has come a long way over the course of his career. Before Guy Fieri ever stepped foot on the Food Network, he didn't have his iconic hairdo, he had yet to travel to New York City, and he even had a completely different name — Guy Ferry.

Yet, everything changed for this restaurant owner once he secured himself a spot on the reality competition series "The Next Food Network Star." After finding himself in first place, he practically became an overnight success story and gained a huge following. Fans everywhere are eager to see what Fieri is up to next.

However, he wasn't always interested in the restaurant industry. There was a defining moment in this Donkey Sauce inventor's life that made him fall in love with food — and it all started when he turned 10 years old. This is the transformation of Guy Fieri from age 10 to 53.

Guy Fieri's cooking career all started with a pretzel cart

Long before Guy Fieri ever found himself in Flavortown, he was a 10-year-old on a family trip to Lake Tahoe, Nevada. While his family was busy skiing, he was busy hanging around a nearby salted pretzel cart — and that's when his love for food began. "I ate one and I just — I mean the doughiness and the chewiness," he explained to "The Sporkful with Dan Pashman." "I'd never seen anything like this." Fieri knew he needed to bring this delicious idea back home with him, so, as soon as his trip ended, he opened his own cart called The Awesome Pretzel. It ended up being super successful, but at just 10 years old, "I'm not even thinking really [about] the business aspect," he admitted on the podcast. Like a typical kid, he was "just thinking unlimited pretzels."

Yet, these flavors always stuck with Fieri. Over the next few years, he saved up all his money from selling salted pretzels to attend school in France, where he studied all sorts of foods and returned to the states determined to make his mark on the restaurant industry. By age 28, he opened his first restaurant in California called Johnny Garlic's — and to think that it all started with a successful pretzel stand. "I've only been in the restaurant business," Fieri said. "I've only cooked. ... That's all I've ever done."

Working in the restaurant industry led Guy Fieri to love

If Guy Fieri had never fallen in love with food, he never would have found his wife, Lori. How they met is a pretty interesting story, too.

Fieri was working at a restaurant in Long Beach, California, when a former employee walked in. She had just been let go, and she had brought along a friend to help defend her. "This blue-eyed, blonde girl giving me this mean mug," Fieri reminisced to Delish of his former employee's friend. The two got to talking, and a much different kind of spark started to fly. She was just passing through the city on her way to San Diego, California, but "she never made it to San Diego," Fieri said.

Though her friend never got her job back, Fieri tied the knot with the "blue-eyed, blonde girl" in 1995. However, he and his new wife decided to change their last name to something completely new. Instead of taking his original last name of "Ferry," they opted to stick with his grandfather's last name "Fieri." According to Vulture, his Italian grandfather had changed it when he immigrated to the U.S.

Guy Fieri became a father, and his kids became the highlight of his life

In 1996, Guy Fieri became a first-time restaurant owner and a first-time father. By 2005, he had to balance his time between two babies — Hunter and Ryder — and the busy restaurant business. Eventually, Fieri even found himself on the Senate floor to combine his love for food and family. In the state of California, every second Saturday in May is officially Cooking with Your Kids Day. "My kids are my life," he told OC Family. "That's the foundation of it all."

Fieri's kids obviously know how to cook, but this celebrity chef has since started an entire foundation to inspire other kids to get into the kitchen, too. Now, his oldest son aspires to become a chef just like his dad. "Cooking is what it is. It's what I do. It's what we all do," Hunter, who now seems to be the Deputy Mayor of Flavortown, told Delish.

Guy Fieri debuted his bleached blond hair, a look that was never intentional

If there's one thing Guy Fieri is known for — aside from food, of course — it's his bleached blond hair. However, few know that Fieri's spiky strands were a complete accident.

It all started with Fieri's fellow employee, who had hoped to go from cutting vegetables to cutting hair (via Vulture). Fieri happened to be the one sitting in her chair one day when he told her she could cut his hair any way she liked — especially since she'd always tell him that his hair needed to keep up with the times. "When we get done, I asked, 'When are you going to wash the shampoo out?' She said, 'What shampoo? That's your new hair color!'" he explained to Delish. "I am rarely speechless, but I was speechless then."

While he had always been used to dark hair, Fieri opted to embrace his new look — and the rest, as they say, is Food Network history.

Guy Fieri won Season 2 of The Next Food Network Star

Before appearing on the Food Network, Guy Fieri had to fight his way there. In 2006, he earned himself a spot on the reality competition series "The Next Food Network Star." While it's any chef's dream to become an on-camera cook, Fieri surprisingly wasn't even excited about doing the show at first — especially after seeing all of his competitors who were culinary school graduates. Though he, himself, was a successful restaurant owner, he didn't have much confidence in himself when it came to competing on TV. "I had no interest," he admitted to BookPage. "Go on national TV and lose?" 

However, he didn't lose. Fieri found himself in first place, beating out all of his opponents and landing himself a permanent place on the iconic network. Looking back, he never thought he would make it that far in the competition. In true Fieri fashion, he figured he would just enjoy the experience "and maybe I'd get to meet Emeril and hang out with Bobby Flay," he said. Are we really surprised?

Guy Fieri landed his first TV show after winning The Next Food Network Star

The very same year that Guy Fieri won "The Next Food Network Star," he debuted his first-ever series on the network. "Guy's Big Bite" gave viewers their first-ever glimpse into Fieri's larger-than-life personality, blond hair, and flavorful meals, as well as his determination to make it big — considering he had never been trained to be on TV. "You may make a huge mistake, say a stupid thing, you may be standing there with your shoe untied," he told the Food Network. "I mean, someone walks right in front of the screen, right in front of the camera, just keep going."

Though he was paid less than $1,000 per episode to start, the show ended up lasting 19 seasons. Fieri had quickly developed a fan base. "We built a five-year plan for him, and he blew through it in, like, three," his agent Jason Hodes told The Hollywood Reporter. "He's a true household name, just one that people can't seem to pronounce correctly."

It's been over a decade since we first saw Guy Fieri on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

While Guy Fieri's first series on the Food Network was wildly successful, nothing seemed to prepare him for the level of fame he reached from "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives." The series follows Fieri as he drives around the continent, searching for the very best places to eat. Fieri, himself, hand selects every restaurant and every meal, and he's not afraid to give his honest opinion. "Trust me, if I don't like it, you don't see it," he revealed on BUILD Series. "There's been locations we've walked out of. There's been locations we've never aired." This foodie is all about gaining fans' trust — and he certainly has.

Not only has the series made him a star, but he's also helped these small restaurants make it big. "[Fieri] told us to be ready for a 200% increase in business," Griffin Bufkin — whose restaurant appeared on Season 9 — told Thrillist. "Believe it or not, that's what happened. And it really hasn't stopped ever since." Many fans refer to this as the Fieri Effect.

"Triple D," as the series is known to fans, has now aired for over a decade, and it sounds like it won't be ending anytime soon. "I'm going to do a lot of these shows. I'll be in a walker," Fieri told People. "They'll be getting me out of the senior citizen van, but I'll still be doing it."

Guy Fieri took his show on the road and started touring

Fans can always catch Guy Fieri driving around in his red Camaro on "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," but in 2009, it seemed time to take his show even farther down the road. The "Guy Fieri Road Show" stopped in 30 cities that year, giving fans a taste of something more than just delicious food. It was "the first ever rock n' roll culinary tour," the press release said – which was a big first for the Food Network (via Eater).

Combining his love for flavorful food and music, Fieri felt like touring the country while cooking was a total no-brainer. Every day on the road was different. Fans were coming hungry and leaving happy. "When friends come to my house there's a lot of people cooking, there's music playing, they're acting out — it's a garage band of food," Fieri told The Seattle Times. "I just took what happens at my house to the stage." We'd definitely love to be invited to a Fieri family cookout!

Guy Fieri became a game show host

By 2010, Guy Fieri's fiery personality had caught the attention of producers outside of the Food Network. That year, he was offered a hosting gig on the NBC game show "Minute to Win It." "I never in a million years would have believed this is the opportunity that I got," he admitted to TV Guide. "But knowing my personality, knowing my attitude and knowing my energy, I can't believe it's not one of the first things I ever did." Honestly, we'd have to agree!

Though a game show seemed to be just another sweet spot for Fieri, the series wasn't so different from what he had always done on the Food Network. "I think the common denominator of all my shows, particularly 'Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives' and 'Minute to Win It,' is these people," he said. "Whenever you get to change somebody's life or watch it and see it happen, it's amazing."

"Minute to Win It" only lasted three seasons, but fate had another competitive series in store for Fieri. In 2013, the Food Network offered him a hosting gig on a game show called "Guy's Grocery Games."

Guy Fieri added author to his long list of accomplishments

Every celebrity chef has their own cookbook, and Guy Fieri added himself to this list in 2011. His first book — appropriately titled "Guy Fieri Food" — is full of humor, tons of flavor, and even his own original recipes. "I just opened up my Rolodex to the 150 recipes that I've been cooking at home and this is what you get," he told BookPage.

Fans of Fieri could probably all agree that 150 recipes isn't enough. Luckily, the famous chef has since released five more cookbooks, and his most recent one — called "Guy Fieri Family Food" — is the most special. "It's about my kids, and it's about food," he told BUILD Series. "The things I love the most."

While Fieri has many more recipes to share, his fans probably won't be seeing them anytime soon. After releasing this sixth cookbook about his family, he's hoping to spend more time with them instead. "If this was the last book, I would be content," he admitted. Donkey Sauce!

Guy Fieri even has his own wine

You always need a great drink to complement your dinner, and Guy Fieri has always had this exact thought, too. In 2015, he bought a vineyard in Santa Rosa, California, and created his very-own line of wine called Hunt & Ryde to pair with his flavor-packed food. The company is named after his two sons, Hunter and Ryder, whom he hopes to pass off the business to one day.

Funny enough, many fans probably have no idea that Fieri has a wine brand — and he wants it to stay that way. In fact, the famous chef declined to have any images of himself posted on the label. If his photo was plastered on the front, "It'd just be too much about me, not about the wine," he explained to GQ. "The wine will speak for itself. I want it to be appreciated. If all the hard work got [over]shadowed by 'It's a celebrity wine,' then that to me is a real disappointment."

Guy Fieri made it his mission to help find the next Food Network star

After years of working in the food industry and on television, Guy Fieri was ready to give back. Over the years, fans have seen Fieri return to work with chefs on the series that catapulted his career, "The Next Food Network Star." However, in 2017, he decided to take this one step further and create yet another series to help find a Food Network host that could tour the country just like him — and that's when "Guy's Big Project" was born.

Throughout his time working on "The Next Food Network Star," Fieri had started noticing that talented chefs had no idea how to be on TV. On this new show, he hoped to help teach them the skills they needed as TV stars so they would be able to follow their dreams of being on the Food Network. "I'm creating, developing, mentoring," he told PopSugar. "It's the same thing we do in the restaurants."

Though his series only lasted one season, he helped his show's winner, Rashad Jones, jumpstart his own culinary career on-screen. "I love to see the success of people," Fieri told PopSugar. "That's why we do 'Triple D.' It's not about me. I'm just the messenger. These great people are out there."

Guy Fieri got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Few Food Network stars have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. However, Guy Fieri does. In 2019, Fieri became the third chef to land their own famed star. Though he was able to join the ranks of Bobby Flay and Wolfgang Puck, there was another star — Fieri's good friend Matthew McConaughey — who joined him on the special occasion.

According to the Food Network, their friendship started a few years beforehand. McConaughey was on a road trip around the U.S. and needed some advice about where to eat. Seeing as Fieri had spent over a decade of his life eating at the best ones, the actor called the celebrity chef to see where he should stop — and the two haven't stopped talking since. "You really haven't changed who you are," McConaughey told him on the day of the ceremony. "Authenticity. In a business where you can be anyone you want to, you've been you."

Fieri thanked his family, who were standing beside him for support, at the ceremony, but there were still others who were just as important to him during his TV journey. "Thank you to the residents of Flavortown," he added that day.

Philanthropic work is a top priority for Guy Fieri

Guy Fieri has done some philanthropic work over the years by bringing attention to small mom and pop shops on "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," but that was really only the beginning for the celebrity chef. In addition to family and flavorful food, philanthropic work is actually one of the most important parts of Fieri's life. "People ask me, 'If you weren't doing this, and when you get finished what will you do?'" Fieri explained during an interview with Thrillist. The answer: "Doing charity for others, giving back to communities." 

Over the course of his career, Fieri has partnered many times with the Make-A-Wish Foundation — an organization that has a personal connection to this TV personality. Fieri's sister had been diagnosed with cancer as a kid and was in and out of hospitals throughout her entire life. "I was doing Make-A-Wish Foundation because I remember what it's like to be in a hospital with her," he explained to the publication.

Ever since, he's made it his priority to visit pediatric patients across the country. Some have even made it their wish to meet Fieri, and it's a responsibility he doesn't take lightly. Even though Fieri has now found fame and fortune on the Food Network, his philanthropic work will always be what he's most proud of. "It's my actual favorite thing about my career," he said.