SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - There’s a man at Overton Brooks VA Medical Center — known simply as Chef.
It’s his passion for food and care that helps bring smiles to patients day in and day out. For Charles Gibbs, cooking isn’t just a job, it’s a way of life.
“Cooking to me is fun, it’s therapy, I just like cooking,” Gibbs said. “I’ve been cooking for about 30 years. I’ve been cooking, I cooked for school board, different restaurants, when I got this job when they called me I was 100 miles in the Gulf of Mexico cooking offshore, but I just love cooking.”
Not too long ago, Chef found himself on hard times. The Coast Guard veteran turned to the VA for help and credits the Shreveport facility for helping him get back on his feet.
"They helped me to become who I am now," he said.
He's now giving back to those who helped him.
"I love feeding the vets. I love helping them because of what they did for us, because without them we wouldn't be free and I love helping the veterans."
Chef Gibbs is one of 18 staff members in the Overton Brooks Nutrition and Food Services. The team prepares over 350 plates a day for their patients.
"I love doing it, when people tell me the food is so good, that just makes me so happy."
His secret ingredient?
"A little extra love."
Chef Gibbs doesn't just stay in the kitchen, he often delivers his meals in person.
Patients and staff recognize his song, long before he appears in the halls.
“Chow time fellas, chow time, coming down the line on seven west, rise and shine lets get it while it’s hot, you don’t eat you get weak,” he sings.
Chef Gibbs started his signature chant after noticing some patients wouldn’t touch their trays.
“When you get sick you don’t really want to eat because your medication and your taste buds, (but) the more you eat the better you get, so I was want to make sure that they were up and able to eat.”
Cooking up good food and good times, with a side of smiles.
When he’s not cooking at the VA, Chef Gibbs is cooking at home, he owns and runs Classic Cooking and Catering, which specializes in barbecue.