A Close Look at How Dallas Firefighters Break Bread at Fire Station 50
Each week I'm tasked with finding someone willing to allow me to interview them for a culinary-oriented profile on this here fine blog. The premise calls for someone who has anything to do with food in Dallas, and even that last part can be negotiable on occasion. Chefs, bar tenders, growers, purveyors, brewers, restaurateurs are all options. Well, I've heard that fire stations often have one firefighter who doubles as a cook, either by design or necessity.
LDD At Dallas Fire Station 50, driver and cook Lance Roberts.
When I called Jason Evans, public information officer for Dallas Fire and Rescue, he was happy to help with my request. Soon I was on the phone with Firefighter Lance Roberts, who not only explained what it's like to be a cook at a fire station, but even invited me to the station for dinner.
This February will mark 30 years of service for Roberts. His dad was also fireman and served 32 years. Roberts is the driver and cook at Station 50 in west Dallas. Here's our chat:
How are the cooking duties organized at a fire station?
A lot of stations rotate cooks and each person takes a turn. Normally the cooks don't do any KP (kitchen police) or clean up, so it's a way to get out of cleaning. But, then some guys just like to cook.
How did you get roped into cooking?
I used to work down at Station 18 and when I showed up the first day they told me it was my day to cook. Then, when I showed up for my next shift they told me it's my turn to cook again and I said, "Well, how can that be?" They said we have a list and it was just back to me. I said, "Sounds like you just want me to cook all the time." So, I just started cooking for those guys. That was about 10 or 12 years ago.
Did you cook much prior?
A little bit. The next day, after I realized I'd be cooking, I went home and started looking for recipes. Really you only need 10 good recipes since we work 24 (hours) on and 48 off. That's 10 days a month. So, if you have 10 good recipes you can use each once a month, and then just start over the next month.
What's in the regular rotation?
Chicken-fried steak, fried chicken, anything on the grill. We have a gas grill we use quite a bit. Hamburgers, enchiladas, spaghetti, pork chops and fried catfish. Basic comfort food.
How many guys are you usually cooking for?
At our station there's six. At other stations there are eight or 10. Some stations have as many as 12.
When do you shop for groceries?
First thing we do when we get to the station for a shift is fix breakfast, which we bought the shift before. Then we collect 12 dollars from everyone and go to the store to buy lunch, supper and breakfast for the next shift.
What do you do when a shopping trip gets interrupted with a call?
A lot of times when we're at the store we'll have to take the basket and push it back into the milk cooler since we have frozen stuff and perishables. Really, at all the stores we can just tell anyone that works there that we have to run and they'll put it back there for us. Then we'll go back there and get it when we're able to return.
I imagine you've lost a few frying pans of half done chicken because of calls...
Yep, we just have to leave it.