Guy Fieri serves lunch to servicemen before Stagecoach
It’s not every day that an active-duty Marine leaves Base Twentynine Palms to have lunch at Thermal – always with celebrity chef and TV star Guy Fieri.
Fieri’s nonprofit, The Guy Fieri Foundation, teamed up with students in the La Quinta High School Culinary Program to serve hundreds of barbecue meals Thursday to active duty military, veterans, first responders and to their families at Aziz Farms.
Damian Neel, a Texas Marine stationed at Base Twentynine Palms, learned of the event through his chain of command and carpooled to Thermal with dozens of soldiers.
Military veterans who served overseas, including Vietnam and Afghanistan, also joined the meal, along with first responders from local agencies including Cal Fire Stations in Thermal and Coachella and the Department of Riverside County Sheriff.
“I think it’s really good that people are taking the time to fund this and show us their appreciation,” Neel said.
Later, he took a photo with Fieri. “I’ve never really met anyone so famous,” he said.
The Food Network star lay in the sun for hours, graciously signing autographs, posing for photos and punching with military personnel as his crew served around 500 meals: pulled pork, of course, and baby food. fresh breads, corn and summer potato salads — plus locally grown dates for dessert.
“(We) just recognize, first of all, what a great country we are and how lucky we are to be the greatest country in the world,” Fieri told the crowd. “And (to) all the men and women and their families who have given us, this country, this opportunity – so it’s your party. Have fun. Thank you very much.”
Fieri did it all before heading out for an afternoon of filming her show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and a long weekend before cooking at the Stagecoach country music festival in Indio.
Fieri launched his foundation in 2011 to teach budding young chefs. Since then, the Northern California-based foundation has expanded to help first responders through disaster relief like the 2018 Camp Fire and 2020 LNU Lightning Complex fires. Recently, his foundation began traveling with him and his television crew to serve meals to military and first responders in the communities where he films.
“Whenever we’re going to shoot ‘Triple D’ or do some type of event, why not take that and shine some of that light on others?” Fieri said.
This month, the foundation served more than 3,000 meals to military and first responders, Fieri said.
Fieri told the Desert Sun that he views events like Thursday as his civic responsibility.
“It’s not just the soldiers who give us commitments – their families: how many children are growing up with their father or mother gone? How many have been lost? Aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, you know, how many?” he said, “So when you think about it, look at the pledge that all these people are making, and you think, my God, I’m just a cook. What can I do? Well, I can bring people together . And I can organize. And we just fed hundreds of people.”
He added, “I’m so lucky and what I really love is being lucky enough to have a microphone that’s loud enough, as a viewer and a producer, that people want to come on board. idea I have, and now it’s turned to our foundation.”
Fieri’s idea, essentially, is to celebrate American patriotism by focusing on acts of service amid what he described as a lot of “internal fighting and democratic madness going on” across the country.
Even as his foundation grows, Fieri’s commitment to mentoring young chefs remains unwavering. On Wednesday, he sent his team to La Quinta High School to teach students in the Culinary Arts Technical Education Program how to prepare for large banquets.
“It’s very exciting and an incredible opportunity to practice what I love to do,” rookie Summer Pinon said while preparing Thursday’s meal. She has wanted to be a chef since she started cooking with her grandfather when she was little.
She also admires Fieri, she said. When asked what she would most like to learn from him, Pinon replied, “I would love to learn as much from him as he would teach me, honestly.”
Jonathan Horwitz covers education for The Desert Sun. Contact him at [email protected] or @Writes_Jonathan.