He may look like a tough guy, but underneath the rugged exterior he has a heart as soft as butter.
And much like the butter he uses in his kitchen when he’s cooking, Danny Raposo’s heart just melted away Sunday after hearing about the tragic news of a deadly Ardglen Drive townhouse fire in Brampton, Ontario.
“I wake up around 5 a.m. every morning and on Sunday my phone was going absolutely crazy,” said Raposo, who owns and operates his Big D’s House of Munch food truck in the city. ” So I jumped on the phone and it was most of my friends that live on Ardglen telling me about the fire.”
An early morning blaze that officials say started in the kitchen of one of the units in the centre of a townhouse unit quickly spread across the top of the common roof and involved the entire building.
Nicolas Gabriel, 10, who had been staying at a friend’s house for a sleepover, died in the tragic fire.
Raposo brought his food truck to the relief efforts at the fire scene Sunday and started doing what he does best: making sure the almost 100 residents left homeless and emergency personnel did not go hungry.
When Raposo got the go-ahead from Brampton Mayor Susan Fennell, he arrived at the scene with his truck and saw the Salvation Army was there too, but all they had were bagels and toast, he said. There were no hot meals.
“So my heart just said I have to do this,” he said. “I have to give them everything.”
Raposo went across the road to where he buys his buns and found The Grainery had donated his bread needs for the day.
“I (was at the fire area) around 11 o’clock and by 3 p.m. I was completely out of food. I was left with four bags of buns which The Grainery donated – kudos to them, too.”
Raposo figures he made and gave away about 250 meals on Sunday.
“It cost me a little bit of money, but I really didn’t give a care about the money,” he said. ” It was more like ‘that’s my community’. I grew up there when I was younger and have been here 25 or 30 years now. To see the people there in need, I just had to do it.”
Raposo comes from a whole family of chefs. His father, sister, nephews, and aunts are all chefs, he said.
“My dad was one of the chefs in the Imperial Room downtown at The Royal York and he always taught me how to cook when I was young. I mean, I grew up in the kitchen all my life.
“I’ve got a big family, I’m Portuguese – so it’s all about food, right?”
Raposo was a contestant on MasterChef Canada broadcast on television this past April and finished 13th overall in the cooking contest.
“It just broke my heart to see these kids laying on the concrete sleeping. If that was my kid I’d want my kid to be full. Some of the parents were saying ‘Dude, I don’t have a wallet, I don’t have my keys. I tried to go to Tim Hortons to get a coffee and they wouldn’t even give me a coffee.’ That’s just wrong, you know. These guys live around the corner from you. They’re your community.
“I just did what my heart told me to do.”
People wanting to help out can do so by visiting the Nicolas/Ardglen Trust Fund at regenbrampton.com