Diners Drive-ins and Dives

Embattled hedge-fund billionaire Steven A. Cohen, whose SAC Capital Advisors is charged with insider trading, paid spiky-haired chef Guy Fieri $100,000 “to be his friend for a day,” a new book reveals. Cohen paid Fieri to drive around Connecticut with him to reenact a fantasy episode of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” reveals Allen Salkin in his book, “From Scratch: Inside the Food Network.” But after “Cohen paid Guy Fieri $100,000 to be his friend for a day,” Salkin writes the odd couple became so close that the chef’s top-rated show even featured Cohen’s favorite hot-dog spot, the (perhaps appropriately titled) Super Duper Weenie. NYP, October 21, 2013

I.

October 3, 2011

The place: Steve Cohen’s Greenwich, Connecticut mansion. The time: Saturday afternoon. The mood: Freaked out.

“Breathe, Steve, breathe.”

“Everything is going to be fine.”

“Who wouldn’t love you?”

“Boss, I’ve spoken with his assistant, and have been assured that he is extremely excited.”

Steve said nothing but continued rocking back and forth in the fetal position on foyer floor, where he’d been since late morning. The words of his wife, general counsel, and president had done nothing to comfort him, nor did the awkward pats on the shoulder offered by his chief financial officer.

“Honey, at least eat something, please,” Alex implored. That he was nervous about what someone thought of him was concerning enough but the fact that her husband had barely touched his breakfast was officially scaring Mrs. C.

“How about a some toast?” SAC Chief Financial Officer Dan Berkowitz asked. “Just a little bite?” he suggested gently, moving the bread toward Cohen’s lips like an airplane. Normally Berkowitz would never have dared to get that close, but these were unusual circumstances.

Cohen pushed the toast away.

“Come on,” Berkowitz tried again. “Just a little taste, just for us.”

Cohen pushed the toast away harder.

“Steve, really, it’s going to be okay,” Alex told him.

“Easy for you to say!” Cohen shouted, suddenly snapping up off the floor.

“Honestly, boss what are you worried about?” SAC President Tom Conheeney asked. “You’ve wanted this for so long.”

“Yeah, I know, and now I’m sick to my stomach about it!” Cohen shared in an uncharacteristic flash of vulnerability. It was a side of Cohen no one had ever seen before– needy, panicky, plagued with self-doubt– and it was extremely unnerving.

“What if this whole thing was a mistake? What if he doesn’t like me? What if it takes away some of the mystique of the show? What if I get in that car and I can’t think of one thing to say? What if–”

Steve had many more what-if scenarios to share but before he could finish, he was interrupted by the blare of a novelty car-horn. Everyone in the room froze. A look of terror flashed across Steve’s face. The silence was broken only by Cohen’s housekeeper, whose name he could never remember, who he’d tasked earlier that morning with taking the first shift at the window.

“Mr. Cohen!” she shouted. “He’s here.”

II.

November 2007, SAC trading floor. Read more »