Santa Rosa, California resident Guy Fieri is helping the people of his community recover from the worst wildfire in California history. Last Thursday, Fieri and his team rolled up to the Veterans Memorial Building to start cooking meals for thousands of evacuees at a makeshift outdoor kitchen, complete with massive barbecue smokers. The chef told local PBS affiliate KQED: “I’m not promoting anything. I’m just here cooking. This is feeding people. People need help, and I’m here to help. That’s it.”
Fieri is one of many local chefs and restaurateurs who are working with the Red Cross and the Salvation Army to help evacuees in Sonoma County. Fieri and other local chefs are also working with Operation BBQ Relief, a non-profit organization that “strives to provide compassion, and offer hope and friendship to those whose lives have been affected by disasters across the United States.” The members of this group helped feed thousands of victims of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey earlier this year, and now they’re conducting their first-ever California relief effort. CBS News reports that Fieri actually called the group to ask for their help feeding the first responders and victims of the California wildfires last week:
"Operation BBQ" serves up meals to those affected by disasters
Celebrity chef and California native Guy Fieri has called in "Operation BBQ" to Santa Rosa to help serve up comfort food to people affected by the wildfires. http://cbsn.ws/2gma9tjPosted by CBS News on Sunday, October 15, 2017
Fieri had to leave California to host a kids cooking competition at the State Fair of Texas on Wednesday, but he was back in his hometown the next day, working at the outdoor Veterans Memorial Building kitchen. While he was away from home, Fieri told Refinery 29:
I’ve already deployed people, I have a bunch of my buddies on the ground already who are gathering up the products... I changed my plans. I told my friends that my hometown is having a crisis. I started my restaurants there. So we’re going back and we’re going to make a big impact; it’s going to be awesome. I’ve got a lot of people coming together and a lot of great chefs are going to come and help. We’re going to make people happy. We’re going to give them a little moment. I think food is always — we call it comfort food because it makes you feel good.
So far, the menu has included chicken, pork loin, braised cabbage, mashed potatoes, baked beans, and other hearty fare. In addition to feeding the evacuees at the makeshift shelter, Fieri and his fellow chef-volunteers are sending food to the firefighters battling the blazes. “With these fires, and the evacuations and with all the people that have lost their homes, we’re feeding over 5,000 people a day,” Fieri told NBC Bay Area on Sunday.
Fieri and his family evacuated their house at around 2 a.m. last Monday. Their house is okay, but a large portion of the nearby Coffey Park neighborhood got decimated. Fieri hasn’t tweeted or shared any photos on Instagram since wildfires started ripping through the North Bay last week, but the celebrity chef has set up a donation page on Classy.org where his fans can contribute money to the recovery efforts.
For more on how the wildfires are affecting food-related businesses, and how the local community is helping the relief effort, check out Eater SF’s coverage of the North Bay disasters.
• Guy Fieri, Other Chefs Offer Up Barbecue in Fire-Devastated Santa Rosa [NBCBA]
• Guy Fieri On The Sonoma Fires, Cruise Ship Food, & His New TV Show [R29]
• Guy Fieri and Operation BBQ Team Up To Feed First Responders And Evacuees [CBS]
• Guy Fieri Brings Barbecue Smoker to Santa Rosa Fire Evacuation Center [KQED]
• Guy Fieri Supports the Northern California Wildfire Relief Efforts [Classy.org]
• All Coverage of the North Bay Fires [ESF]