Meet Gurl Fieri: Where Flavortown Meets State College

You’ve heard of Guy Fieri…now get ready for Gurl Fieri. One recent Penn State graduate has been ~rolling out looking for State College’s greatest diners, drive-ins, and dives.~

Lauren Starker took COMM 372: Digital PR with Bill Zimmerman this spring semester. The final for the class was a digital enterprise project that gave students creative freedom to show their skills in digital marketing by creating content, engaging followers, and showing overall growth in running a social media account.

Starker launched a Guy Fieri-themed Instagram account, @gurl_fierii, where she reviews local ~joints~ in State College.

“I love food and am inspired by other social media food accounts to try new things, and I wanted to be a resource for others to try new foods and restaurants,” Starker said. “I also love Guy Fieri and wanted to incorporate my love for him and food into this creative account.”

Fortunately, Starker and her roommates dressed as Guy Fieri for Halloween in 2020, so it only made sense for her to put the costume to use. Turns out, she’s a lifetime Triple D fan, too.

“I grew up watching Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives with my family and became obsessed with trying the places that Guy tried,” Starker said. “I also made my parents take a photo of me in a restaurant if there was a photo of Guy or if he tried it.”

Starker’s first stop on her food tour was at The Greek, a traditional Greek restaurant on North Atherton St. For an appetizer, Gurl Fieri tried the three dip medley. In order from her favorite to least favorite, she had the tyrokafteri (spicy feta and red pepper), fava bean, and melitzanosalata (eggplant).

As for her entree, she tried the chicken gyro platter, which came with tzatziki, pita, chicken, and fries. Overall, Gurl Fieri rated The Greek a 10/10 and wished she would’ve tried it sooner.

Starker’s favorite stop on her food tour was Lupita’s, an authentic Mexican restaurant on Beaver Ave. She tried the birria tacos, which “did not disappoint.” In fact, she went back later that week because they were so good… “Capital T tasty,” if you would.

Now that Starker is a Certified State College Foodie™, she knows most of the tasty restaurants in State College. In addition to The Greek and Lupita’s, she also visited Little Szechuan, Roots, Sowers Harvest Café, Sakura, and more.

Her favorite food ever is sushi, so Tadashi is her go-to. She suggests everyone gets the three-roll lunch special because it comes with soup, salad, and is a bang for your buck.

“My favorite thing about the account is that I have inspired people to try new places and have had a lot of interaction with my followers,” Starker said. “I also love that it gave me a chance to step out of my comfort zone and try new restaurants that I have overlooked these past four years. My only regret is that I still haven’t received Guy’s attention!”

Gurl Fieri graduated this past weekend with a degree in broadcast journalism. She plans to move to the Hoboken/Jersey City area in August to start a new job and will also travel to nine countries in Europe this summer. Her famous Instagram account isn’t going anywhere, though.

“I am going to keep the Instagram page alive, and I am excited to share all of the foods I will be trying abroad,” she said.

Starker told us that this COMM 372 assignment was the most fun project she had completed during her time at Penn State.

“I am so grateful for my past four years at Penn State for my creative growth and ability to do such creative projects,” Starker said.

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About the Author

Colleen Nersten

Colleen is a washed-up biology grad and former associate editor. Her legacy will live on through stories like “10 Questions With State College Sensation ‘Hot UPS Bae’”. If you’re a STEM girlie, this is your sign to take the leap of faith and learn to write. It’s pretty fun. Colleen misses the hate mail and can be reached at [email protected] or via LinkedIn.

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