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Series / Guy's Grocery Games

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Guy's Grocery Games is a Food Network series that debuted in 2013, and is created and hosted by Guy Fieri.

Like Chopped and Cutthroat Kitchen, it involves four contestants preparing dishes for a three-judge panel during three rounds, with one contestant eliminated after each round. This time, however, the chefs have to gather their ingredients from the aisles of the fictional Flavortown Market, and Guy assigns a dish type and one or more challenges (i.e., requiring chefs to use only frozen items or stay under a certain price or weight limit). Before October 2021, the winner plays a bonus round for a maximum of $20,000 cash. Starting with "Flavortown 2.0" they could take a "mystery check" worth $8,000 to $20,000 instead of playing the round.

Tropes for this series:

  • Affectionate Nickname: Guy likes to apply these to frequent judges and guests. Alex Guarnaschelli, who has competed in and judged various American incarnations of Iron Chef, as "ICAG." Brian Malarkey's nickname is "Shenanigans". Antonia Lofaso is known as "Warrior Princess," etc. This carries over into Tournament of Champions where he announces chefs like one would announce boxing or wrestling matches.
  • Alliterative Title: Guy's Grocery Games.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: One episode featured a contestant for who English was her second language. A translator was present for the Bonus Round as one always parses their native language quicker than their second language.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: In, “The Ol’ Switcheroo”, manly-man cowboy Lenny says that grilling a steak well done “makes the carcinogens come out”. Carcinogens are cancer-causing compounds. Richard just repeats the word flatly.
  • Birthday Episode: "Craziest Day in Flavortown" focused on the 25th birthday of Guy's son Hunter. The chefs had to cook him a birthday dinner in the second round, Lee Majors brought out a cake (and required the chefs to eat a piece before they could start cooking), and Poison lead singer Bret Michaels gave him a framed plaque that the band received for selling 32 million albums.
  • Blazing Inferno Hellfire Sauce: In spicy food challenge episodes, contestants are essentially challenged to create this. Special mention goes to one of the Thai chefs whose dish was so spicy the cameraman had to back away from filming her cook because just breathing the air around her station was causing him to react physically.
  • Bonus Round: "Guy's Shopping Spree" for the winner, giving them a chance to win up to $20,000 in two minutes.
    • First format: Get 10 specified items, one from every aisle, for $2,000 each.
    • Second format: Answer five questions with the names of different items, then find them in the market for $4,000 each. Often involves Audience Participation from the judges, who will shout answers to the winner and tell them where to look.
    • Third Format: The winner gets to choose a check with an unknown amount on it, the second format above, or to get a certain number of items comprising a certain recipe.
  • Celebrity Edition: Plenty of these, featuring chefs who have appeared as judges on GGG or other Food Network shows and are playing for charity.
  • Clip Show: "Flavortown's Big Move" was the last episode filmed in the original Flavortown Market, and was filled with clips from past shows featuring the chefs and judges.
  • Crossover: There have been tournaments and special episodes serving as crossovers with other Food Network shows, such as Diners, Drive-ins and Dives (all of the contestants are chefs that had been featured on said show), Restaurant: Impossible (the winner must battle Robert Irvine), etc.
    • There is also a crossover leading to Guy's Tournament of Champions where this show has a play-in tournament for a chance to compete in Tournament of Champions.
  • Deaf Composer: One chef in Season 10 was born without a sense of taste, so he learned to rely on his other senses as he grew up and started cooking.
  • Delayed Reaction: See Running Gag below.
  • Do Not Try This at Home: Invoked by Guy for the "Shop Lift" challenge (chefs must "steal" all the ingredients for their dishes from the market shelves without being caught). If this challenge comes up in an episode, expect Guy to note that as owner of Flavortown Market he is allowed to give the chefs permission to shoplift, but under all other circumstances people should pay for their items.
  • Down to the Last Play: One chef found the first four items in Guy's Shopping Spree and had only a few seconds left to grab the fifth one, ice. The chef yanked open the freezer case full of bagged ice, found a single loose cube lying at the bottom, and threw it into the cart a split-second before the clock hit zero to take home the full $20,000.
  • Failed a Spot Check: One challenge for the March 31, 2021 episode called for the chefs to pick ingredients from two totes, each of which contained seven items. Two of the chefs assumed the insulated bag with the steak and shrimp was simply an ice pack. (To be fair, this was season 25 and the Home Game boxes did have ice packs, but those chefs also didn't notice they were short two promised ingredients.)
    • One episode required the chefs to prepare a fried dish in every round. When Guy noticed during one round that none of the chefs were following this rule, he had them stop cooking and go back into the market to get ingredients that they could use for frying.
  • Fire-Breathing Diner: Invoked in the "Spicy Dish" episode. Guy brings in four chefs who were known for spicy cooking (Thai, Indian, Mexican, Singaporean), and three judges of varying spice tolerance (Played for Laughs as the late Chef Carl had no tolerance for capsaicin). At one point, the contestant's cooking was so potent that the camera crew had to back away from her station.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Since giving the contestants the possibility to take the check, the audience can tell if they are going to take the check based on how much time is left in the show (the shopping portion of the bonus round is 1.5 to 2 minutes).
  • Game Show Host: Guy Fieri, of course.
  • Grocery Store Episode: More like Grocery Store Game Show.
  • Home Game: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 25th season took place in Guy's home and the homes of his fellow chefs. Instead of shopping the store, the competing chefs have boxes delivered to their houses and they must create their dishes from the ingredients found inside. This being Guy's Grocery Games, there is always a twist of some kind (for example, all of the ingredients come frozen).
    • Instead of being in a room to discuss and judge dishes with the worst dish going home, the judges watched the competitors cook and describe their dishes via videoconference, scoring each dish based on gameplay (15 points), creativity (15), plating (10) and description of the chef's taste (10).
    • Since they had to deliver the materials for the "delivery" shows to the homes of each competing chef, there were only two games to compete in, not three like before.
    • The "Envelope of Opportunity" was awarded to the winner of Game 1 of each of the "Delivery" shows, which was $1,000 donated to the winner's charity AND an advantage in Game 2. The "Package of Pain" had to be opened by the low scorer and was a handicap or otherwise embarrassing task to do/item to wear in Game 2.
    • The latter half of season 25 has Guy watching and cooking along with old episodes of GGG - with son Hunter picking the episodes, so Guy doesn't know what's coming. Guy is also subjected to the same games that he subjects the chefs to, albeit within the constraints of his own home kitchen. A judge, usually one of Guy's fellow chefs, stops by to judge Guy's dish and compare it to the dishes created in the episode.
    • When the show returned to the studio, some of the changes from this format were made permanent, including the two-game structure and scoring system, based on taste (20), gameplay (20) and plating (10), with the chef having the lowest score after Game 1 being eliminated.
  • Honor Before Reason: In season 3, a contestant had won an advantage in the "Aisle by Aisle" game that allowed him to go and pick any item in the store as his bonus. As the item he originally wanted (a bag of ice) turned out to be free, he gave chocolate bars to his opponent, who had forgotten them in her haste. Due to improperly assembling his parfait, he ended up losing the round and the game.
  • Hurricane of Puns: In the cheese-themed episodes and egg-themed episodes, Guy has actually encouraged the contestants and judges to make as many puns as they can with a running tally on the bottom of the screen when one is made.
  • Mystery Box:
    • Some games have ingredients contestants only find out about at that moment that must be mandatory: one for the Halloween 2019 episode had canned but unknown ingredients in a tank of "clear slime," with the bottom of the can (out of sight) saying what that ingredient actually is.
    • Starting in the October 2021 episode "Flavortown 2.0.," a winning contestant can take a "mystery check" worth anything from $8,000 to $20,000 instead of playing the bonus round. However, if the winner had said the prize money was going to do something nice for his or her employees (one winner had said he wanted to rent out a water park for the day to treat them to it, another just wanted to give it to hers because they'd helped her through the pandemic), Guy could go look at the check before giving the choice and increase the prize amount (with him and the judges hinting the check should be taken).
  • New Rules as the Plot Demands: On occasion, after the judges finish deliberating, Guy announces that none of the chefs will be eliminated in the current round. It usually happens if the judges can't pick a clear loser among the dishes put before them, or if all the chefs completely screwed up. This is followed by an announcement that two chefs will be knocked out in the next round to compensate.
    • Sometimes Guy skips the bonus round and just gives the whole $20,000 to the winner.
    • A 2018 "Sandwich Showdown" episode ended with the judges choosing two winners in the final round. They ran Guy's Shopping Spree together and split the money.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: In one episode of the GGG Impossible tournament, one chef runs out of time and fails to complete two of the three challenge requirements for the round. The judges refuse to taste his dish and he gets eliminated.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: Aisle 6 of Flavortown Market is largely devoted to the items in a grocery store an adult human simply would not and should not eat under any circumstances, such as detergent and pet food, so anytime Aisle 6 was forced to be used, such as in the "One Ingredient Per Aisle" game, inevitably every chef would be steered directly into the only thing you could reasonably try to use for cooking, baby food. When the market was remodeled, Aisle 6 acquired more foods that someone could actually cook with... but to preserve the difficulty of the aisle, it became the home of the 'International Mystery' section, with labels in non-English languages.
  • P.O.V. Cam: "Craziest Day in Flavortown" required the chefs to wear body cameras throughout the entire competition. One of the judges wore a camera as well, and Guy carried one of his own.
  • Rapid-Fire "No!": After finding out he was going to participate as a judge in the "Ultimate Spicy Episode", Carl Ruiz, who can't take spicy food, does this.
  • Reality Show Genre Blindness: See Running Gag below. One would think people would eventually wise up to this - but several repeat contestants still wait for him to actually break his banter and say "Go!"
    • Subverted in one episode with child contestants, who literally went the second he said "go" while he was still talking. Guy was of course shocked.
    • Lampshaded in one episode, where a Genre Savvy contestant mistakenly started to run when he said "one." He scolded her fondly, adding that "If I'd said go, it'd be different!" Of course all four contestants took off immediately.
    • This is somewhat justified when an episode showed what it was like behind the scenes - Guy gives a much much more detailed description of the rules (which is cut), so by the time he gets to his countdown he has been talking for several minutes.
  • Running Gag: Guy likes to sneak his "3, 2, 1, Go" countdown into his banter at the beginning of each round, often resulting in a delay of several seconds as one or more chefs figure out that he's given them the signal to start.
  • Secret Test of Character: Guy Fieri pulled one in a charity episode in which all of the competitors were firefighters. During the first round, one of the contestants (the only woman) cut herself and was bleeding, which rendered her food ineligible for tasting. Guy then asked the other three contestants if she should be eliminated as normal, or if they were willing to go on to the next round with all four competitors. The response was that firefighters stick together and she should remain. Guy then admitted that he was going to let her stay anyway, but he wanted to see if they would respond the way he thought they would - which they did.
  • Shrine to the Fallen: With the passing of judge Carl "The Cuban" Ruiz in October 2019, a framed picture of Carl and the GGG Championship Belt he often won and defended is hung in Flavortown Market.
  • Spin-Off:
    • There are two official ones: "Dessert Games" where Duff Goldman did sweet games at Flavortown Market, and the upcoming "Big Bad Budget Battle," where "Pioneer Woman" Ree Drummond hosts "budget battle" games at Flavortown Market (winner from each show's group of three home cooks gets year's worth of groceries vs. $20,000).
    • In 2020, Food Network started the Tournament of Champions, where instead of dice from "Let it Roll," a five-reel "Randomizer" spun to determine the dish for each round (what protein, vegetable and piece of kitchen equipment had to be used, what kind of dish needed to be cooked and how much time you had for the dish were five variables the Randomizer determined).
  • Trash the Set: A "pre-trashed" variant was played in "Flavortown's Big Move," the last episode filmed in the original Flavortown Market. Most of the displays had been taken down, and the floor was cluttered with pallets of groceries that had been packed up for the move.
  • Troll: Half the appeal is watching Guy's good-natured taunting of the contestants or games like the claw machine where the contestants get a "prize" they have to incorporate into the meal. It's often labeled something easy to work with like "rice," but when Guy reveals the full label, it's more like "rice pudding."
    • Guy takes this up to eleven in season 25 with the "Package of Pain", requiring the chef with the lowest score from Round 1 to do or wear something while cooking in Round 2, like carrying a raw egg in their pocket for the entire round without breaking it or wearing welder's goggles and gloves.