People magazine to feature Black Diamond chef

BLACK DIAMOND -- A chef from Black Diamond will be on the national stage this week, featured in one of the most popular magazines in the country: People.

Ginger Passarelli knows the way to someone's heart is through their stomach.

"I'm Italian so I love to feed people, so it's kind of genetic I guess," Passarelli said.

She's the chef at Mama Passarelli's in Black Diamond.

But what she stirs up in the back, in the Soup Ladies van, isn't meant for your common diner or dieter for that matter.

"High carb, high protein, we pack as many calories into one cup as we can," she said.

It's for those on the front lines: firefighters, police, search and rescue crews across Pierce and King counties.

Whenever the phone rings, 4 a.m., 10 a.m., or whenever, Passarelli grabs a fellow cook and heads to a crime scene or fire with soup in tow.

"They're starving and they love it," Passarelli said. "When you're working and you're hungry you need sustenance."

The Soup ladies is a non-profit that's served first responders for about eight years.

Passarelli first made soup for church members then local emergency crews, but didn't stop here.

She's also helped in Joplin, Missouri, on the East Coast after Super Storm Sandy and most recently Oklahoma City.

"We were open and on the ground three days after the tornado hit," she said.

After using a school kitchen to cook there, she caught the eye of People magazine, which interviewed her for an article that will feature the Soup Ladies in this week's issue.

"There's lots of things to do and this is just what I do. There's a lot of good folks out there," Passarelli said. "When you share a meal it's almost like you become family."