TAMPA, Fla. — There’s little rest for the owner of any catering company. Chef Gaston Merideth is normally booked solid with weddings and corporate events serving up to 1,300 meals at a time.
It's why he was so looking forward to mid-September.
“This is my slowest week of the year. This is actually a week I’d take to rest up,” Merideth said.
But plans for that week of relaxation quickly changed with a phone call this week.
“He said ‘Chef G… can you come to the Bahamas,’” Merideth said.
Merideth is no stranger to helping others. He got his start as a cook in the Coast Guard and now is the President and Executive Chef of Gaston’s Culinary Services.
“We did a whole lot of search and rescue," he said. "We rescued a whole island once.”
But heading into the devastation following Hurricane Dorian will be unlike anything even Merideth has ever seen.
“Well, the Coast Guard Semper Paratus means Always Ready. Once you get that inbreed inside of you, it’s there," Merideth said.
He’s prepared to help serve meals for an estimated 30,000 expected to evacuate into Nassau while also helping coordinate several mobile kitchens in the hardest-hit areas. And while it’s been years since he’s deployed on any life or death missions, he fully believes he’s ready.
“That search and rescue and saving lives mindset kicks in,” Merideth said. “It doesn’t matter how you’ve been out.”
It’s a mission of mercy focusing on the one thing Chef G knows best, making meals.
“I can’t end their suffering because they lost everything," Merideth said. "I’m just going to be there to make them as comfortable as possible.”
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