Since winning The Next Food Network Star in 2006, Guy Fieri has lived up to the title of celebrity chef.
The 1990 Harrah Hotel College grad has parlayed his fascination with food into a successful career as a restaurateur, a New York Times best-selling author, and most notably as the face of numerous Food Network programs.
Throughout his rise to stardom, Fieri has held strong to his Rebel roots. UNLV faculty and students have been featured on his show "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives," and he regularly returns to his alma mater to motivate and share his experience with students. For that, he now has a new title: Dr. Guy.
Fieri was honored Dec. 18 at UNLV's fall commencement ceremony with an honorary doctorate for his public service, for maintaining a strong connection with UNLV students, and for supporting hotel college fundraising efforts.
"To get the honorary doctorate is amazing," Fieri said. "I've had some great things happen in my career, but this is at the top."
In 2011, Fieri headlined UNLV's Chef Artist Dinner Series, a fundraising event that benefits hotel college students and faculty. During the visit he mentored aspiring chefs on the ins and outs of running a successful business. He stopped by the college again this year, highlighting his alma mater on the popular "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives."
He credits UNLV with helping him turn early success into a lifelong career. Though Fieri admits he was an average student, he says it was the chefs and mentors at UNLV that helped him set the table for what he'd experience in his career.
"The most exciting thing about this day is to be able to get on my soapbox and express to everyone about how important UNLV has been to me and has shaped my life," Fieri said during his commencement remarks. "Even though I had early success, it was clear I had to get a degree, and there is no place better in the world to get a hospitality degree than UNLV. It allowed me to get the mental game it takes to win in the big leagues."
Fieri's advice to the more than 2,000 graduating students in attendance: work hard, get experience, and take pride in your time at UNLV.
"The common denominator is UNLV," he said. "Going to UNLV helped me become a more well-rounded person. Use the great education you get at UNLV to get the experience. If you really apply yourself, gain that experience, it will happen. This is the best foundation you can start with."
Fieri was named the 2011 Harrah Hotel College alumnus of the year and was previously honored at the Vallen Dinner of Distinction in 2007 as the food and beverage management department's Industry Executive of the Year.