Willy Sanjuan / Invision / AP
Thursday, May 23, 2019 | 2 a.m.
For one day, Hollywood became Flavortown as celebrity chef Guy Fieri on Wednesday got his star on the star-studded Walk of Fame.
"I didn't see this coming," said the Santa Rosa, Calif., resident who went from a humble pretzel hawker in his native Ferndale in Humboldt County to an internationally recognized celebrity with more than 63 restaurants.
"This wasn't even in my dream world," Fieri told a group of family, friends, celebrities and supporters who gathered for the unveiling of Fieri's pink star on Hollywood Boulevard.
His mother, Penny, and father, Jim Ferry, who also live in Santa Rosa, sat in the front row of the award ceremony, along with his wife, Lori, and sons Ryder and Hunter. Others present in his entourage were: his aunts; his dentist; his business team; and actor and friend Matthew McConaughey.
In a thank-you speech that lasted nearly 10 minutes, he recognized the many "angels" who had helped him throughout his life.
Fieri, selected from a pool of about 200 nominees, is only the third chef to receive the honor typically reserved for film and television actors.
"Everyone that's here, please recognize in some shape or form, you had a part in this star happening. ... That's our star. Seriously, that's our star," he said.
The spikey-haired chef's son, Hunter, spoke briefly to the crowd about the authenticity of his dad, leading to a brief tearful moment from the usually upbeat star chef.
"What's it like having the Mayor of Flavortown as your father? He puts his family first. ... He never changed. He's still that wild creative rebel from his Ferndale days," said Hunter, a student at his dad's alma mater, UNLV.
"Thanks a lot," said Fieri as his sons left the stage, wiping a tear from his eye. Later, he said he nearly broke down at the emotional moment. "I had to think of anything I could not to cry."
McConaughey, who started his ode to Fieri with his signature line, "Alright, alright, alright," from the movie "Dazed and Confused," spoke briefly about his friendship with Fieri. The actor said he was a fan of the chef's long-running Food Network show, "Diners, Drive Ins and Dives."
Traveling across the country in an Airsteam 15 years ago, McConaughey contacted Fieri for advice on where to eat during his travels. When McConaughey returned to Los Angeles, the two men continued the friendship while Fieri was operating restaurants in Southern California.
"He didn't have to play a part. He was the character," McConaughey said. "You really haven't changed who you are."
Fieri, who started his food career in 1996 opening Johnny Garlic's in Santa Rosa with a partner, rose to fame in 2006 when he won the next Food Network Star contest.
"I thought for sure I was gonna get beat. I walked in with flip-flops and a leather jacket," he said of his whirlwind stint on the program. Along with "Diners, Drive Ins and Dives," Fieri also has hosted "Guy's Grocery Games," which is filmed in a Santa Rosa warehouse and has written three best-selling cookbooks.
Behind the scenes, Fieri has been a longtime philanthropist. Most recently, he was recognized for feeding first responders during the 2017 wildfires in Sonoma County. Kathleen Finch, chief lifestyle brands officer for Discovery television network, one of two companies that own the Food Network, said Fieri refused publicity for his volunteer work during the fires, saying he didn't want anything to get in the way of feeding the firefighters.
Last year, he also visited Redding during a wildfire and Paradise, the Butte County site of the infamous Camp fire, the most deadly and destructive in California history.
"With all that success, he is still one of the nicest and most generous people I have ever known," Finch said. On Wednesday when his speech on the Walk of Fame was briefly interrupted by the sound of police sirens, Fieri paused and quipped, "It's the Flavortown Police."