Search through the annals of YouTube today, and you’ll find the original Guy Fieri audition tape that launched him onto season 2 of The Next Food Network Star. Fieri blew the competition out of the water that time around, and his television legacy has since grown to include several multi-season shows, Emmy awards, and of course, Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. You can peep that fun, out-of-bounds audition in the video below.
What’s crazier about this audition is that Fieri almost didn’t go through with it, and the Food Network came within a miracle of never watching his tape. Fieri recently broke down the whole story with Brian Koppelman on his podcast, The Moment.
At the time, Fieri was in a good place in life, with four restaurants to his name in the Santa Rosa area. After filming a demo tape for a TV show on barbecue that he says “never went anywhere,” The Food Network Star launched and people began talking about it, which is how Fieri found out. He had watched maybe a grand total of 30 minutes of the channel up to that point, but two of his buddies pushed him to apply for the second season. Fieri kinda dragged his feet at that point, since he didn’t really even know what he was applying for.
“And so I delay it enough so that the expiration of entering it happens. And I’m like okay, this is good, I don’t have to do it… but flat out, the reason I didn’t want to do it is I was scared.”
Fieri didn’t want anything to do with competing on a reality show at first, but his buddies wouldn’t stop letting up on him. He finally relented and sent the tape in late, but the casting team almost didn’t watch it upon arrival. When they put it into the DVD player at the studio, it didn’t work, so the casting director put it in her purse and took it home. By some stroke of serendipity, it fell out of her purse and she was compelled to try watching it again. This time, it worked, and she was blown away by Fieri’s audition.
Fieri’s audition tape, though, was supposed to be a joke. “I was trying to make it so that nobody would actually take it,” he said. But the casting director was so blown away by it that she called everyone back into work and played Fieri’s tape for everyone. Their immediate response was, in Fieri’s words, “Call him. Get him on the phone now.”
Fieri got the call that night, a contract arrived the next day, and his crazy journey to Food Network stardom began at that point. Imagine if the DVD hadn’t fallen onto the casting director’s floor. It wouldn’t be just Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives that we’d be missing out on. The mayor of Flavortown may have never came to be.