When celebrity chef Guy Fieri heard the news of the several wildfires ravaging through Northern California’s wine country, he stopped everything he was doing to help cook 5,000 meals a day for evacuees and volunteers.
“I changed my plans. I told my friends that my hometown is having a crisis. I started my restaurants there,” he told Refinery29.
Fieri said he wanted to give people – some who lost everything they own in the fires — “a little moment” of happiness with comfort food.
“I’ve got a lot of people coming together and a lot of great chefs are going to come and help,” he said. “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.”
— Stanley Roberts (@SRobertsKRON4) October 13, 2017
By Thursday, the crew had already fed about 1,200 volunteers, first responders and evacuees, Fieri told KQED.
“This isn’t a PR stunt,” he said. “You don’t see my banners up. 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 said much of his hometown in Sonoma County was destroyed in the fires. He and his wife were awakened by smoke and flames before they evacuated. Their Santa Rosa home is just a few blocks away from a neighborhood that was completely wiped out by the fires.
“The smoke was really bad,” he said. “We had to evacuate at two in the morning, and we grabbed what we could, taking pictures off the wall as fast as we could. Jumped in the truck, loaded in the dogs, and away we went.”
“Over the past week, I’ve seen a level of destruction in my hometown that I never thought imaginable,” he wrote on the donation site he set up with The Salvation Army. “But even bigger than the fires has been the outpouring of support and compassion for our community, here in Sonoma County and beyond.”
At least 42 people have died in the wind-fueled fires that began on Oct. 8, and dozens more are still missing, The Associated Press reported. Crews working overnight on Wednesday made progress on the fires affecting wine country due to moderate weather and lack of wind.
(H/T: Refinery 29)