Two Chefs, Two NBA Teams, And One Tasty Beef
- Guy Fieri (Warriors) and Michael Symon (Cavs) are in a bit of a Twitter beef as their teams square off in the NBA Finals. It's a friendly rivalry, but both are legitimate hoopheads.
While the NBA Finals hasn’t produced the most exciting basketball product so far—the Warriors are up 2–0 on the Cavaliers after two blowouts—two celebrity chefs are still cooking up some serious, well-balanced, farm-to-table, beef off the court. That’s right, Northern California’s Guy Fieri and Cleveland’s Michael Symon are in a little bit of a Twitter war that’s crisping up right under the broiler as their favorite basketball teams face off for a championship for the third straight year. The two have been exchanging barbs since the series started, and both were kind enough to speak to The Crossover about their friendly rivalry and much more.
“Listen, the funny thing about this, I’m not a Twitter war guy. We’re really good friends,” Fieri said. “He’s such a phenomenal chef. But this has been going on for a while. Of course when the Cavs won last year, [Symon] was the first person to call me, text me, write me a letter, put up a billboard up in my hometown. He sent me a photo the other day of him with his Cavs ring on. But I’m confident we’re going to have a positive outcome in the Finals this year.”
The Crossover pressed both Symon and Fieri to trash one another publicly, but neither would take the bait. Both chefs do host their own traveling food show, however (Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives is a huge hit, while Symon can be seen on Burgers, Brew & ‘Que), and both were happy to offer up reasons why you should watch theirs instead of the other’s.
“You watch Triple D because it’s got the time and tenure,” Fieri said proudly.
“For me, my show covers the three most important food groups,” Symon claimed with a laugh.
Symon also said with conviction he would beat Fieri no matter the secret ingredient if they were to square off on Iron Chef. (“That’s my world,” said Symon.) Fieri countered that he could beat Symon in an abalone challenge, purposefully picking a little obscure, Northern Californian ingredient. (I’m surprised he took such a position of: he’d do anything better than me, but that’s fine,” Fieri said. “That’s fine.)
Though their trash talk may be more theatric than anything else, both Fieri and Symon are legitimate hoopheads. Fieri’s been a regular at Warriors games for a few seasons, and he told The Crossover he’s had his eye on Kevin Durant since last season, when he couldn’t help but notice his contract was expiring at the same time the Warriors would be beneficiaries of the NBA’s salary-cap spike.
“What did we just see happen?,” Fieri said of his reaction to Durant’s signing. “It’s like when Sammy Hagar joined Van Halen.”
Symon, on the other hand, was breaking down the Cavs’ defensive strategies over the phone when asked about the series, and the award-winning chef was so upset after the Game 1 loss, he ordered a hotel room-service hamburger and fries to help cope—despite having his own restaurant in the hotel he was staying in.
While Fieri certainly has a leg up in the current series, both chefs are enjoying the athletic revivals of their cities after some lean years. Symon spoke excitedly about the Cavaliers and Indians, each of whom are title contenders in their respective sports. He’s also noticed a little more energy in the city since LeBron’s return, and he commended James for still being active in the community during his four-year stint in Miami. Fieri, who is also a Raiders fan, said it “feels amazing” to experience the 21st-century sports renaissance in Oakland. The Triple-D host also has the added benefit of taking in the games with his two sons, who he says are thrilled every time he brings them to watch the Warriors.
Of course, as acclaimed chefs, both Fieri and Symon are most passionate when discussing food. When asked what they would cook their teams’ respective stars if they had to serve them a perfect meal, both chefs responded with beautifully detailed menus.
Fieri: “I would start off with sushi and sashimi. Maybe get into some lighter fare with spring rolls, dumplings, that kind of stuff. Taking it past that, I’d be grilling. Mixed vegetables with a nice herb-oil marinade and take those to the grill. Then have a nice cornucopia of grilled items, from lobster to chops to shrimp. You name it. Am I making anybody else’s mouth water? I have a really nice wood-fired oven in my house. Maybe doing some wood-fired berry cobbler-type thing. We can jump all over.”
Symon: “LeBron doesn’t eat pork so that takes one of my No. 1 moves out of the equation. I would definitely do a pasta. Something with some seafood, maybe crab or lobster. Like a squid-ink spaghetti with a little bit of spice to it, some fresh herbs. And then I would probably do a lightly smoked beef short rib. Clean and simple with a fresh herb salad to play against the fat. For dessert, it would depend on the season. But I love doing like a seasonal crostada with the fruit that’s in season, with a creme fraiche ice cream on the side.”
For now, it seems as though both chefs are focused more on the kitchen than the court. Fieri seems extremely confident in the Warriors pulling out a victory, and more worried about Symon catching him with a witty jab than a Cavs comeback. Symon struck a realistic tone about Cleveland’s chances, but he came back to a common refrain when explaining why he still has hope.
“Every year we’ve played the Warriors, they’ve been the favorites,” Symon said. “This year I think we were given a 7% chance to win the series. But at the end of the day, we have LeBron. And when you have LeBron, you always have a chance.”