Wild American Shrimp’s 2019 Chef of the Year David Guas Responds to the Coronavirus by Cooking Free Meals for Arlington Community

April 21, 2020

In addition to managing his own restaurant, Bayou Bakery & Café in Arlington, Virginia, Wild American Shrimp’s 2019 Chef of the Year David Guas is doing good deeds for others by providing free, healthy meals to Arlington’s children and their families.

Like many restaurants across the nation, Bayou Bakery has faced the hardship of temporarily closing its doors due to the limitations and requirements of the current public health situation. With Guas’ Southern spirit of serving others, he and his wife, Simone, wanted to make a difference within their community in these tough times. When Arlington area schools closed, they saw an opportunity to help feed the kids who would miss the school-provided lunches. For reference, there are at least 300 children at one school in the area who depend on school-provided meals. And it’s not just children, as there are also several parents who have lost their jobs and child care.

Thus, David decided to open his restaurant and feed the children and their families in need through the Chefs Feeding Families program, which he founded in collaboration with Real Food for Kids after the closure of Arlington County Public Schools.

Every week, Monday through Friday, Guas provides his community’s underserved children, families, and military members with free, grab-and-go, plant-based, nutritious meals. The primary meals being served are hot plates of red beans and rice – New Orleans style.

On average, Guas serves around 400 – 500 free meals to his community. In the first ten days alone, Bayou Bakery distributed over 1,700 meals.

Speaking with WJLA, Guas discussed how the collaboration came about: “The idea really came from a panic of mine waking up one morning and realizing that my entire team, who has kids here in Arlington County, were not going to have a meal program starting today.” Guas said that he has been in partnership with Real Food for Kids “for 6-7 years since they’ve launched,” but worked with them to create the Chefs Feeding Families initiative in “about 2-3 days” in response to shutdowns from the COVID-19 virus.

Chef David Guas and Bayou Bakery aren’t the only ones diverting their nutritional resources to the community. Non-profit organization Fruitful Planet is offering fresh fruit to accompany Bayou Bakery’s red beans and rice. Restaurants Joe’s Place: Pizza & Pasta and Medium Rare are also offering free meals to families most affected by the school closures and vulnerable seniors in the Washington D.C. area respectively. That’s not even to mention the multitude of other restaurants that are all offering various types of free meals in support of the D.C. community.

It may not come as a surprise to hear that this is not the first time that David Guas has worked to help others during times of national crisis. When Hurricane Katrina hit his hometown of New Orleans in 2005 and destroyed his mother’s house, he and his wife – Simone Rathlé – managed to raise $39,000 in four hours. Now, they’re both working to provide as many meals as possible to children and families in need.

Real Food for Kids is constantly working to provide children and their families in the Washington D.C. area with healthy meals and nutrition education. Even if you’re not nearby, you can still support their cause by donating online.

Learn more about ASPA’s 2019 Chef of the Year, David Guas, by visiting his Chef Advocate page!

Special thanks to simoneink for providing photos of all the amazing work being done at Bayou Bakery!