The Mayor of Flavortown, Guy Fieri, decided to bring the smoke to a fire-ravaged city to help feed evacuees and first responders.
The ongoing Northern California fires have already claimed at least 31 lives, and have devastated over 212,000 acres of land, including over 3,500 structures, according to the the Los Angeles Times. With over approximately 50,000 evacuees and hundreds of firemen and first responders, the Santa Rosa restaurateur knew it was time to step up, and help prepare hot meals for those most affected.
“So I called the Salvation Army in Santa Rosa and I said, ‘I’m ready, I’ve got an army, I’m ready to help,’” Fieri said. “And they said, ‘Bring it.’”
So with a trailer, a team of workers, a CBS news crew, and a barbecue smoker in tow, the Santa Rosa native returned to Santa Rosa to do just that.
In an interview with KQED, Fieri said that by Thursday, he had already fed 1,200 for lunch and planned about 2,500 for dinner.
However, according to that same interview, Fieri was met with some criticism about his attempt to take advantage of the disaster as a publicity stunt and his decision to bring a barbecue smoker to a city that’s been engulfed in flames.
“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 told KQED. “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.”
As for the criticism of using a barbecue smoker, Fieri was rendered speechless.
“I don’t even have anything to say about that,” he said. “That’s a ridiculous question. And that’s a ridiculous statement. I mean, come on. What do you want me to do?”