Whenever someone cooks you something, the rules of polite society dictate that you need to say something nice about it. This is even more true when you're working in the spotlight. Surrounded by TV cameras, directors and expectant chefs, it takes a very brave person to say that they don't like what they're eating. Hence, you're very unlikely to find a food programme that insults chefs to their face - as entertaining as this would be.
This doesn't mean that professional presenters don't have some strong opinions about the food they're forced to eat. If you spend your life travelling to every far flung eatery there is, it's inevitable that some trips are going to be more worthwhile than others. No television personality epitomizes this better than Guy Fieri.
As the host of Food Network flagship "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives", Fieri gets to eat a lot of food. Thanks to the format of the show, these meals are typically presented in the less than salubrious, often limited surroundings of America's off-the-beaten-track kitchens.
When it comes to taste, this no nonsense fare can often rival the best restaurants in the country, serving up slice after slice of all-American comfort to an enamored local audience. However, for every hidden gem that Fieri uncovers, it's clear that there are more than a few duds.
Given Fieri's legendary enthusiasm for food he really likes, chefs are justifiably miffed when they don't get the expected gushing reaction. As producer, writer, director and podcaster Brian Koppelman said to Fieri in a recent interview: "A close watcher of the show can tell the difference from when you’re genuinely blown away, and when it’s just like, 'Good, nice job, I can see why people like it.'" Laughing, Fieri responded that he is not "selling (his audience) a bag of beans".
In the same interview, Fieri goes on to reveal exactly what happens when the cameras are off and he's been less than glowing in his response.
"Some chefs that’ll see it... will do their investigation. And, you know, they’ve watched the show for years. We’ll go to commercial, and they’ll go, 'Well, did you like that?' And I’m like, 'Yeah it was good.' And they’ll go, 'Well you didn’t go, like, ‘This is off the hook.’' And I’m like, 'Well, it was good.' And I’m like, 'Don’t be offended, I don’t like every song that’s on the Rolling Stones album. There’s ones that you like.'"
Fieri also revealed that, on occasion, snubbed chefs will ask the spiky-haired foodie for a few words of advice on how the food could be improved. His suggestion for all restauranteurs is that they pay attention to every element of a menu.
Using the example of a burger, Fieri explains that he will encounter chefs that spend hours pontificating over their meat and sauce, but will end up simply dumping the whole lot on a bland, pre-packaged roll. To make a great restaurant, Fieri clearly feels that you need to take care of everything.
Given that Fieri has spent more than 10 years zig-zagging his way across America, so it's inevitable that some of his meals were going to be less than spectacular. However, knowing that even this ultimate admirer of American fast food culture doesn't love every burger or barbecue is somehow reassuring. He may not always come right out and say it, but if you look closely, you can tell which diner, drive-in or dive is really worth a visit.