If you just know Guy Fieri for his trademark wraparound sunglasses, frosted tips, and embroidered flame shirt, then it sounds like you don't know the real Guy Fieri. The celebrity chef and longtime Santa Rosa resident spent this Thursday cooking food for first responders and residents who had been displaced by the deadly fires that are still raging in Northern California.
Fieri—who had to evacuate his own home earlier in the week—brought his own crew of family and friends and set up his makeshift mobile operation in the parking lot of the Veterans Memorial Building in Santa Rosa. "I called the Salvation Army and I said, 'I'm ready, I've got an army, I'm ready to help,'" Fieri told KQED. "And they said, 'Bring it.'"
He spent the day manning a wood-fired oven and a BBQ smoker, grilling meats for exhausted evacuees, first responders, and members of the National Guard who had been called in to help. Fieri told the news outlet that he and his team served lunch (pulled pork, mac 'n' cheese, coleslaw, and garlic bread) to around 1,200 people and planned to feed twice that many at dinner that night. Hey, that's pretty nice.
Fieri wasn't really kidding about bringing his own army. "I've got my attorney here," he told the Press Democrat, pointing out each of his helpers. "I've got ex-Johnny Garlic's [restaurant] employees. I've got my best friend. A high school friend's wife. My mortgage broker, you name it." He also called friends and business associates who were willing to donate pop-up tents and other equipment for his impromptu outdoor kitchen.
Because, even in during a tragedy, the internet can be terrible, Good Guy Fieri was accused of serving up nothing but a publicity stunt—allegations which he wholeheartedly disputes. "If that's what you think and you're that shallow at a time like this with what we're facing, then there's no changing your mind about that," Fieri said. "This isn't a PR stunt. 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." (Regardless of whether he expected good PR from the event or not, I'm sure that the recipients of the barbecue appreciated it.)
As of Friday afternoon, the Los Angeles Times reports that the fires have burned more than 212,000 acres and have been responsible for at least 32 deaths. At least 400 people have also been reported missing.
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