During another menacing wildfire, Guy Fieri steps up again to feed first responders
Where there’s smoke, there’s Fieri.
With flames again tormenting Sonoma-Napa wine country, TV chef/foodie Guy Fieri on Saturday returned to crisis mode and fired up his mobile kitchen.
This time he and his hastily assembled crew of A-list chefs, family members and pals made meatballs like mad near the fire camp at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. They boxed up about 2,000 meals of penne pasta, salad and garlic bread for grateful Cal Fire personnel there and on the lines of the Glass fire.
“We’re making 3,800 meatballs,” Fieri said early on in the culinary frenzy alongside the grandstands at the southeast Santa Rosa fairgrounds.
Only about two hours after the cooking began just past 9 a.m., hungry Cal Fire firefighters, law enforcement officers and other first responders were lining up to eat.
Many shot or posed for photos with Fieri, who grew up in Humboldt County and was co-running two Santa Rosa restaurants, Johnny Garlic’s and Tex Wasabi’s, when he entered and won the national Next Food Network Star competition in 2006. He has long lived in Sonoma County.
Virtually every diner Saturday heaped thanks on him, and he deflected it right back.
“Come on!” he exclaimed. “You’re out saving our community.”
Fieri’s last meal for first responders involved in a major firefight happened only about a month ago, amid the LNU Lightning Complex fires. He and his crew served grilled chicken, rice and fresh Sonoma County vegetables to firefighters and others at the camp at the fairgrounds in Calistoga.
He said Saturday it’s clear to him that firefighters working long days and eating bagged or chow-tent meals simply appreciate a break in the routine.
They also get a great kick out of meeting Guy Fieri.
Spotting him Saturday, firefighter-paramedic Luis Ruvalcaba of the Chino Valley Fire District in Southern California lit up, and he grabbed his cellphone.
“Hey,” he told Fieri, “My cousin dressed up like you for Halloween.” Ruvalcaba then found and held out a nearly year-old photo of his cousin in her Guy Fieri getup.
Fieri took a look and told the firefighter his cousin definitely looked better.