The Journey Continues: Toward Healthier Eating

Welcome to this month’s Firehouse Chefs Corner. Last time, we covered summertime grilling and BBQ and I also mentioned that Firehouse Chefs was going to open our first brick-and-mortar restaurant in Southern California. I am pleased to announce that we opened our doors on June 21 and things are going well.

As I took on the challenge of turning Firehouse Chefs (FHC) into a business, I was taken aback by how many parallels there were to the fire service. As firefighters, we rely on our training, experience and our crews to get us through the tough situations we face day in and day out. The business world is no different and, in fact, one glaring difference is that in the business world, most people do not have your back.

To deal with the complexities, setbacks and the vast responsibilities I looked to the fire service for answers. The Incident Command System (ICS) was the template that was perfect for the business world. Just like in the ICS system, a business has an incident commander, divisions, groups, branches, command staff and general staff. I found that by using the ICS I could make sense of what I needed to do and how I could survive in the business world.

As Firehouse Chefs has evolved from a non-profit cooking project to a catering business, gourmet food truck in Los Angeles and now a brick-and-mortar restaurant, I have relied on the ICS and overall values of the fire service to ensure that I produce the highest-quality food products and give our customers the true camaraderie of the fire service.

As the Firehouse Chefs journey has moved along, I have been honored to meet other firefighters who have either started their own businesses or have inspired me to continue believing in a dream that has had numerous setbacks. A great friend of mine and Long Beach, CA, Fire Department Captain Jeff Hardin said to me, “FHC will take you at least five years before you see anything happen. It will be like when you tried to become a firefighter and you have to stick it out.” Jeff was prophetic in his words and it has been very similar to having the persistence and determination that is required in becoming a career firefighter.

Other firefighter/entrepreneurs have become part of my extended FHC family and I would like to mention a few of the firefighter-owned companies to look out for: Third Alarm Coffee, Firehouse Boards, Hot Chocolat, Venom Vodka and 5 Alarm Applications. These are just a small sample of firefighters around the country who have great products and believe in giving back to the fire service, U.S. military and other non-profits – from local roasted coffee to custom cutting boards for your firehouse or home, handmade chocolates from Seattle, WA, Fire Department Lieutenant Michael Poole, American-made vodka from two firefighters and an app that can assist with our numerous exposures.

This summer also marks a date that will live with us forever. On June 30, 2013, 19 firefighters from the Granite Mountain Hotshots lost their lives while battling the Yarnell Hill Fire in Prescott, AZ. This hit home especially hard to numerous families, friends and to the Firehouse Chefs family. One of the 19 firefighters, Kevin Woyjeck, not only worked for Firehouse Chefs on our food truck, but his father, Joe Woyjeck, is also a close personal friend and has been a long-time supporter of Firehouse Chefs. Joe Woyjeck is a fire captain for the Los Angeles County Fire Department and the vice president of the Los Angeles County Fire Museum in Bellflower, CA. The courage, strength and ability to press on have been inspiring to me and countless others. This tragedy reminds all of us who wear a uniform that nothing can be taken for granted in our profession and that our petty differences need to be set aside to allow for laughter, great stories and true brotherhood around our kitchen table.

This month’s recipe is my Firehouse frittata. As we all know, breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Every station should have a cast-iron skillet that is bomb proof and will be around to see rookie after rookie learn how to season it and properly care for it. Remember that a little oil after each use will keep your cast-iron pan in great shape and will prevent rust. Stay safe, eat well and enjoy your chow time together!



Serves: 6-8

Preparation time: 15-20 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Total time: 45-50 minutes

The Firehouse Frittata is my take on this delicious one-skillet meal. It makes a great breakfast or brunch dish, or can be served in thin wedges at room temperature as a yummy appetizer, garnished with the following: Eddie’s Chipotle Sour Cream, his Chipotle Guacamole, fresh salsa, fresh fruit and your favorite toast.

1 cup grated mozzarella cheese, separated, two even portions

6 eggs

Optional: 1/4 cup whole milk

One-quarter cup olive oil

4 potatoes, washed and diced

One-half red bell pepper, diced

One-half green bell pepper, diced

One-half onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, chopped

2-3 raw Italian sausage links

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

Pinch crushed dried red pepper flakes

One-quarter cup grated parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400° F.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, beat eggs; if desired, add milk (for added richness/consistency). Season with salt and pepper and mix in half of the mozzarella. Set aside.

3. In an oven-safe skillet, coat bottom of pan with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat.

4. Add the potatoes to the heated skillet and cook for three to five minutes; season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Remove the sausage from the casing and add to the skillet, breaking it up so that it will cook evenly. Stir and cook for several minutes.

6. Add the peppers, onions, garlic, red pepper flakes and fresh herbs to the potatoes and sausage. Sauté and continue to stir for approximately five minutes or until the veggies are al denté.

7. Pour egg/cheese mixture into the skillet. Cook for one to three minutes, until you notice that the sides of the eggs are beginning to cook and form a slight crust.

8. Spread the remaining cheese (half of the mozzarella and parmesan) evenly around the skillet on top of the veggie/egg mixture.

9. Place skillet in a 400° F oven for 15-20 minutes, checking at 15 minutes to see if cheese is melted and has browned.

10. Remove from oven and allow to rest for five minutes.

11. Garnish with sliced avocado, sliced scallions (green onion) and sour cream and serve.