By Pat Sabiston, Connecting NowFaith
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, it became clear to charities worldwide that normal operation methods would have to change, and quickly. The Women’s Refuge of Vero Beach was no exception. Unfortunately, there was no operational map to follow in this uncharted territory. The Refuge’s leadership knew they would no longer be able to count on their major fundraiser—the Women’s Refuge Third Annual Christmas Banquet. This elaborate affair grew in popularity and numbers, drawing more than 300 guests.
So, when the Refuge’s board and committee members decided to postpone the banquet until 2021, their creative minds came together to, instead, launch a series of private dinner parties. With these Holiday Soirées, various Refuge supporters will volunteer their homes to host unique culinary events, all with diverse themes, virtual auctions, and unique entertainment. All proceeds meet a dire need for those who are struggling spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.
Early in the Women’s Refuge’s planning, the name “Noah Sims” was mentioned to help bring the charity’s dream to fruition, and he accepted.
Interviewing Noah Sims is like trying to tackle a whirling dervish! This larger-than-life young man (who stands 6’ 7”) is a force to be reckoned with, but unforgettably so, by donating his time and culinary knowledge to charitable causes all over the nation and world! He is excited to have been asked to assist with fundraising for such a worthy cause as the Women’s Refuge. Supporting their mission to provide a live-in Christian program where hurting women can find sanctuary in a healing environment, to offer biblical counseling and support for the healing and wholeness of emotionally, mentally, and spiritually wounded women, men, and families in our community, and to make available training for people to disciple others.
Most people were introduced to Noah Sims when he was one of the Master Chef’s contestants on FoxTV in Season 10. His stint on the show culminated in Episode 23: London Calling, Part 2— where “the top four chefs travel to the historic Hatfield House, where they must cook a venison dish.” In this segment, Noah recounted, “I could have played it safe, but that’s not who I am.”
And, that, my friends, as you will learn, is an understatement. So, how did this young man get to be the confident yet humble person he is today?
“Growing up in the North Georgia mountains, my parents raised my siblings and me in a home that had a very southern, country atmosphere,” Noah said. “Both my parents are very educated and highly intelligent, which led to in-depth conversations, leading to incredible daily life lessons. These lessons formed me into the man I am today. My parents loved every-one, and there was no judging by skin color, sexual orientation, cultural or religious bias; plus, they let us kids be individuals. They taught us that knowledge was power. So, naturally, the Bible was the first book I read cover to cover. Having been raised in a 100% Christian home, I feel as if I’ve had a calling on my life to become a preacher, but I just haven’t gotten around to picking up the phone quite yet. I’m grateful to my parents for instilling a faith that I believe has given me the confidence to co-exist in the diverse places where I’ve found myself. Always having faith in God allowed me never to lose my cool.”
You could even say Noah’s “marching orders” came straight out of Hebrews 11 – “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,” (ESV) because this young man left home at only 18 years of age and equates what has happened to him to the movie script Slum Dog Millionaire. The story tells of a young man who makes good despite incredible odds. Like the star of the movie, Sims was determined to make his mark in the world.
“Everything I’ve done in my life has culminated into why I was able to do Master Chef. I’ve always been an optimist, so one day, I walked into a Cold Stone Creamery with almost no money,” Noah explained. “The owner had a broken sink, and because I’d watched and learned plumbing from my father, I was able to fix it, which led to the owner hiring me. Two weeks later, I was a store manager and turned the franchise location around. I was making a lot of money for an 18-year-old, but weighed 330 pounds and was addicted to sugar.”
As Sims got heavier, he became less involved in life, more reclusive, and emotionally crashed. Then, in his early 20s, he wandered from place to place, working and learning about restaurants and food prep. He even went to Culinary School, finishing in one year at the top of his class, but kept going back home to the safety of his father’s business. Rather than following his food passion, he accepted an offer to work as the service advisor for a KIA dealership. Because of his honesty and outgoing personality, he turned the Service Department around from rock bottom in ratings to one of the Top 10 in the nation in eight short months. Wherever Noah found himself, he was a huge success, just not in the career of his choice until his best friend, Jake, introduced him to the opportunity of a lifetime, challenging Noah to audition for Master Chef. It was an open call precisely 13 minutes from Noah’s house.
“I got to the Master Chef audition site 30 minutes early, ready to take on the unforeseeable challenges,” Noah said. “I was locked and loaded, ready for anything. I was focused and in control, knowing I was prepared for this day as part of my destiny. Having only five minutes to present a dish to the judges, I had to make a choice. Should I try to keep something hot? Or keep something cold? Not knowing how long I would be waiting, I felt I could control a cold dish better. So, I decided to bring a giant cooler to get my big, bold, beautifully flavored Beef Tartar in the judge’s mouth, chilled and fresh from the kitchen. That audacious recipe launched me into the running.
“God gave me an amazing ability to be able to ‘read’ people, so I knew the producers were looking for people with personality, who weren’t jerks,” Noah said. “When I got into another room where there were only 60 people. I pinned my ears back and engaged. I introduced myself to everyone in the room. I thought and felt in my spirit; there would be someone in the mix who was important but masquerading as one of the staff. When the contestants got down to just 10, I walked into a room, and low and behold, three of the people I’d just met in the prior room were sitting at the judge’s table. As I called them each by name, the other nine contestants’ minds were blown.”
And, the rest – as they say – is history, except for that most critical “pact” Noah made with our Heavenly Father.
“I told God if he made me well known, I’d give a whole year of my culinary skills to charity,” Noah said.
Laughing, he kidded: “My goal is to better the world with my positive actions. I want to give everything I have to those in need and make myself as financially unstable as possible.”
But Noah has a new wife to consider, and she fits into the Hebrews 11 formula as well.
“We met, quite by accident, when I was in New York City with Subha Ramiah, my Master Chef ‘brother,’ who wanted to show me Times Square in the day time,” Noah explained.
“Raquel was there at the same time with one of her friends who wanted to have her picture taken with me. But my attention was focused solely on Raquel. At 5’10”, this natural beauty intrigued me and made me want to know her better.
“We took pictures, exchanged contact information, and kept in touch over the next month as I traveled to India. But here is where our story gets even better,” Noah said. “My wife, who is pretty enough to be a model, is a Brazilian architect and a powerful woman. Growing up, she’d always told her mother she knew she was to marry someone named Richard. When I told Raquel, my first name was Richard, her mother was filled with excitement, as her daughter’s destiny was being fulfilled. Then, on our first date, she bluntly asked, ‘Do you love Jesus?’”
Noah was happy to be able to answer ‘yes.’ Then, shortly after that, Raquel said ‘yes’ to his marriage proposal, and they’ve traveled together as husband and wife ever since.
“I’m excited about coming to Vero Beach because I always have one heck of a time cooking for charities. I like being unmuzzled, letting everyone truly experience the adventure of cooking. I try to have a great time with everyone invited, wanting people to enjoy these Holiday Soirées thoroughly. And, I can promise one thing—my culinary experiences are like people have never had, and no two events will ever be the same.”
So, spoiler alert: Although Noah came in 4th on Master Chef, we guarantee he will be #1 in the hearts and minds of those charities he serves due to the compassion that drives his heart. Refuge supporters believe that now, more than ever, people need hope that’s provided through their services. Plus, an excellent byproduct of these unique house parties is having people come together again, in love and gratitude for friendships that have endured, to benefit an extremely good cause—the Women’s Refuge of Vero Beach.
Special acknowledgments to the Holiday Soirée party hosts and sponsors, including presenting sponsor Bernard A. Egan Foundation; Bill & Pat Marine, and virtual auction sponsor Industrial Services International.