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Good to Go, the state-of-the-art food truck owned and operated by Wind Creek Hospitality, will wrap up its inaugural year after preparing more than 55,000 pounds of food, feeding 21,201 people, distributing nearly 33,000 pounds of food to area food banks, and using nearly 7,000 pounds of locally produced products.
Since hitting the road in late March, Good to Go and its commodore, Chef Paul Norton, have logged 11, 655 miles and traveled to more than 40 cities and towns in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.
"This first year on Good to Go was really interesting," Norton says. "I cooked for wonderful people all over our region including times when some were in great need or coping with the aftermath of natural disaster. This was an opportunity that few people in my industry will ever have, and I am truly grateful for what Good to Go did in its first year on the road."
Wind Creek Hospitality, which owns and operates Good to Go, established it as a kitchen in motion with a mission on the menu. For the past nine-and-a-half months, it has rolled through the region promoting the area's culinary excellence and locally produced food. Good to Go distributed food where there was a critical need, and it brought a ''taste of Wind Creek'' at fun events across Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.
Just as he does with his favorite recipes, Norton has filed away his favorite stops. Here is a sampling from his trip down memory lane.
Heeding the Call
"Right after we launched 'Good to Go,' a tornado touched down in Salem, Alabama," Norton says. "We headed up there and went straight to a church shelter to start feeding the victims and the first responders. We made them breakfast – egg casseroles, sausages and biscuits. Then we made them a hot lunch and made sure we had a lot of water to distribute. "
It was devastating to see what they had just gone through. So many of their homes had been destroyed, but no one was angry. They were thankful to be alive. One man had been buried beneath the rubble and he couldn't stop thanking the rescue workers. It was humbling to see."
Connecting with Families
"This year we met a lot of great families and had the opportunity to talk about food with kids across the region. Two of our busiest stops were Molino ElementarySchool and the fall festival in Stapleton. We served lots of food but still had time to have good conversations about the importance of supporting local farmers and cooking at home. Kids are curious about food, and I like to think we got them excited about trying new things and making healthy choices,” Norton says.
Feeding the Hungry
"Our trips to shelters and food pantries will always stay with me. While we were serving food at the shelters in Huntsville and Pensacola we had meaningful conversations with people there that I won't ever forget. And it meant a lot to me personally to make a stop at the Atlanta Children's Shelter. I don't want any youngster to ever go hungry, and I was happy to think that we brought something delicious and special to the children there.
And the Prodisee Pantry in Spanish Fort, Alabama made me see the tremendous good that comes from distributing food. When we visited there, the doors opened at 8 a.m., but people had been in line since 5 a.m. Everyone we served was so appreciative and they seemed to really enjoy the food we made.
We also got to see what a real resource that food bank is to the community. There were folks there helping people find jobs, making sure they were getting social security, even helping them get eyeglasses. People come for food, but they leave with a whole lot more,” he says.
Bringing the Fun
"We had a blast cooking at festivals and events all over the region,” Norton says. “I really enjoyed the Gumbo Cook-off in Orange Beach. Visiting Belle Chevre in Elkmont was a treat – it is such a beautiful spot. And I was really proud of the "black and blue macaroni and cheese" that we featured at the Fairhope Arts and Crafts Festival.
But if I had to pick the most fun I had all year, it would have to be driving 'Good to Go' around the track at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. We were laughing that we had the fastest food in America that day, but for a chef who loves NASCAR, it doesn't get any better than that."