Monica Hernandez and Eric Paulsen / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS- For the first time on television, the local chef who was shot multiple times in an armed robbery spoke out Sunday night during a benefit in his honor.
In an exclusive TV interview, Boucherie chef Nathanial Zimet talked with Eyewitness News anchor Eric Paulsen about his tragedy and triumph.
"I got shot here, and then here and it came out here," said Zimet, pointing to his abdomen. "I was also shot right here, which, really... it was a 9mm bullet...it's pretty amazing."
It's been exactly seven weeks since Nathanial Zimet was shot, point blank, while sitting in his truck outside his home.
It was 5:30 in the morning, and Zimet had just returned from work.
"I got shot, and I reacted, and I got shot a couple more times," said Zimet. "And I think when your body goes through that much, you really just go into shock, you luckily don't feel it."
The robber didn't take off with any money, but left Zimet in critical condition.
"I remember trying to open the door to my vehicle and I couldn't get out and I sat back down and I took a breath," said Zimet. "And I was like the only thing I could do is honk the horn, that's all I have."
Honking that horn may have saved Zimet's life. A neighbor heard it and called police.
"Next thing I know I'm being wheeled out of surgery, and I'm looking around and I can't figure out where the hell I am," remembered Zimet.
Since then, Zimet has grown stronger every day. And the community has rallied around him. Hundreds of people gathered at a benefit in Zimet's honor Sunday, called "Beasts and Brass." Over 30 local restaurants donated food. Suppliers donated utensils and groceries. And live bands rocked the stage.
"It's humbling, it's really humbling, words can't express how it makes me feel," said Zimet.
It's the last big benefit planned for Zimet. It raised thousands of dollars for the chef, who has mounting medical bills and no insurance. But Zimet considers himself lucky.
"It almost brings tears to my eyes, early on, I was crying a lot," said Zimet. "Just in awe of the way everybody's come around."
Organizers hope the gathering sends a message about violence.
"It's somewhat of an epidemic in this city that this type of violent crime happens," said James Denio, Zimet's business partner and co-owner of Boucherie. "And hopefully with an event like this, with the people that are coming here, that everyone could take a piece of it home with them and you know, allow it to sprout in its own way."
"This is so much better than a wake," said Zimet's father, David. "Getting together eating and drinking for the joy of celebrating somebody living rather than celebrating someone's previous life."
It's not the first time Zimet has been robbed at gunpoint. But he's become an intrinsic part of the fabric of New Orleans, and it's become a part of him.
"To be honest, I hadn't thought about leaving. and I think that's what's so beautiful about New Orleans," said Zimet. "It is violent, it is a dangerous place, but just as much as it's dangerous and violent, it's equally as passionate, as evidenced by the people that stand around me."
Zimet said he remembers most of what happened but is unable to identify his attacker.
If you'd like to make a donation toward Zimet's recovery, you can do so at any Capital One bank branch in New Orleans.