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Local chef offers fellowship and comfort through food

Chefs have the power to make someone's day with a meal. Our Person of the Week, Paul Drummond, said it's his honor to serve people who find comfort in food and fellowship.

Once a week at Black Mountain United Methodist, Paul is the chef for a community kitchen called Open Table. There he serves people in need of the comfort that comes with something as simple as lunch.

"It doesn't matter who you are, you need someone to talk to and to sit down, break bread," he said.

The chef receives rave reviews for classic American food with a British flair.

"This meatloaf is the best I've ever had," Roberta said.

"I do put a twist in it now and again," Paul explained. "We've had bangers and mash."

Scotch eggs are also a popular menu item.

"I would not trade those Scotch eggs for nothing," one person exclaimed.

Each year, with Paul's military precision, Open Table serves more than 5,000 people out of a small kitchen.

"We feed the community, and the community consists of elderly people and people who have nobody to talk to come in for a meal," Paul said.

In the late '90s, he and his wife moved to America and raised four adopted children. When they got older, he was left with an empty nest full of emotions.

"They've got to grow. You've got to let them grow," Paul said. "Otherwise, you haven't done your job."

Paul channeled his paternal instinct in a whole new way.

"There was a void, a space, and this came up, and I can cook, and they never had a cook," he explained.

Open Table gets their food each week from MANNA FoodBank. On Wednesdays, Paul becomes a culinary magician.

The day after Paul's interview with News 13, he became an American citizen.

"This is my country. Seventeen years living here, you know, it's home," Paul said. "The people are fabulous."

Long before it became official, Paul brought a not so secret ingredient to the Open Table-- patriotism.

Joan Brown says her fellow American should make us all proud.

"Well, I've teased him enough to say he was a 'Yam Dankee' before he officially was made a citizen," Brown said. "He's been a blessing to the community and getting this Open Table started."

His menu draws people away from their problems to a warm meal, and that's why Paul has embraced the fight against hunger. It's a mission that appeals to him as a former sailor, as a dad, and as an American.

"That's what it's all about -- a group of people with kind hearts doing something for the community," Paul explained.

Open Table is open every Wednesday at Black Mountain United Methodist Church from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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