The thoughts of many North Texans are focused on the little town of West, in the aftermath of the terrible fertilizer plant explosion on April 17. Among many locals who went down to help was one of Fort Worth’s best burger chefs.

Quincy Wallace, one of the owners of Fred’s Texas North (2730 Western Center Blvd.), just wanted to lend a hand. With a handful of volunteers, he loaded up the Fred’s chuckwagon, and for eight days he and his crew cooked and served more than 15,000 meals to folks in West. Food distributor Ben E. Keith donated a large portion of the ingredients and sold Wallace whatever else he needed at cost.

When Chow, Baby spoke to Wallace, he was on his way back to Cowtown. He had been sleeping sparingly in a friend’s RV and sounded like a man running on fumes.

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“I don’t really know how to describe it,” he said. “I was honored to be there. It’s such a great town, and it’s a shame that such a horrible thing happened down there. The outpouring of help was incredible.”

The Fred’s truck was part of a convoy of food trucks and do-gooders organized by a nonprofit group called Operation BBQ Relief, which was formed after a tornado struck Joplin, Mo., in 2011.

“When you’re pulling in somewhere with uncooked barbecue, it’s going to take hours before you can serve any food,” said Wallace. “So I thought I’d go down, because I can make a burger pretty quickly.

“I was the quick-service guy, I guess,” he said.

In addition to burgers, Wallace and his crew made breakfast food, chicken-fried steak, pork chops, and vegetables.

Chow, Baby is one of thousands of Texans for whom a stop at West’s Czech Stop (105 N. College Ave.) has become a tradition for any trip south on I-35. I was there a few days ago, and I’m happy to report that the bakery and Shell station was doing fine. In fact, it was packed,  though the seemingly endless line moved quickly.

Food critics aren’t considered first (or even forty-first) responders, so I didn’t go anywhere near the blast zone. But I was proud that Wallace and other Fort Worth-area volunteers had gone down and made a difference.


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