TV game show host, flame shirt apologist and Santa Rosa native son Guy Fieri has arrived in fire-ravaged Sonoma County today. As local journalists Sarah Stierch and Heather Irwin reported on Twitter this morning, Fieri’s team was spotted setting up shop in the parking lot of the Veterans Memorial Building in Santa Rosa, with a CBS TV crew and a mobile BBQ unit in tow.
While it’s currently unclear what Fieri’s relief efforts entail, the sight of crews setting up chafing dishes in the parking lot implies there may be an emergency Fieri-style cookout in store. Eater has reached out to Fieri’s team for more information, but it also appears the local lowbrow hero has spent most of his morning making the rounds at emergency shelters in the area.
Whether or not Fieri feeds the masses with trash can nachos, bringing a TV crew to the area will certainly help show some of the scope of the tragedy at a national level and hopefully reveal its impact on the mom-and-pop businesses that have been essential to his Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives brand. On the other hand, the celebrity chef is not exactly known for his sober reactions.
Update: KQED reporter Gabe Meline spoke with Fieri on the scene of his makeshift operation Thursday afternoon. Fieri’s team estimates they fed about 1,200 evacuees, volunteers, first responders and military during lunch at the shelter. The team expects to cook about 2,500 meals total by the end of dinner tonight. Fieri and his family live near the Coffey Park neighborhood that was leveled during the early blazes and had to evacuate around 2 a.m. Monday morning.
“This isn’t a PR stunt,” Fieri told KQED. “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.” Regarding his decision to bring a barbecue smoker, Fieri said “I don’t have anything to say about that. [...] I mean, come on. What do you want me to do?”
Fieri and team have also set up a separate relief fund in partnership with the Salvation Army.