Celebrity BBQ Chef Supports Crews Fighting California Wildfires by Supplying Gourmet Meals

September 11, 2020 Updated: September 11, 2020

As firefighters strive to contain the wildfires scorching Northern California, celebrity chef Jim Modesitt has stepped up to support their efforts in the best way he knows how.

In collaboration with the Gary Sinise Foundation, the Master BBQ Chef is distributing gourmet meals to first responders across the state.

“They literally work their butts off,” Modesitt told CBS San Francisco, “so I’m here to make sure they have a good meal at the end of the day.”

Fire crews’ shifts have more than doubled since the wildfires broke out on Aug. 17, explained Thomas Moran, International Association of Fire Fighters Union Rep. “Long, long work shifts,” he said. “We normally start out with a 24, sometimes 48-hour work cycle.

“What happened this year is we were getting 72, 96-hour shifts, even longer.”

Recently, Henry One Rescue Helicopter crews conducted a night rescue of two firefighters on a blazing ridge. “We gotta be ready, whether it’s going to rescue somebody, helping out with evacuations, we have to be on our toes!” said Tactical Flight Officer Chris Haas, who expressed appreciation for the gesture.

So far, Modesitt and his Big Jim BBQ restaurant team in San Rafael have supplied more than 3,000 dishes to first responders since joining the Gary Sinise Foundation’s Serving Heroes project on Aug. 27. The team’s outreach efforts are funded by independent donors as well as a generous grant from the foundation.

On Sept. 3, Modesitt and his BBQ crew embarked on one of their biggest meal handouts during the effort, serving almost 100 meals to first responders across three counties. Firefighters, California Highway Patrol, Sonoma County Sheriffs, and Henry One Rescue Helicopter crews were among those on the receiving end of the celebrity chef’s gourmet giveaway, and the gesture was well received.

Adds Flight Officer Haas: “That’s really neat that there’s people out there who get to positions in their lives like that, that are still thinking about the guys that are out doing the job that I do, that other firefighters, patrol deputies do, that we’re in their minds and they are willing to help us out.”

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