Food News

A Close Look at How Dallas Firefighters Break Bread at Fire Station 50

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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.

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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.