FDIC 2017 was a record breaking year for the biggest event of it's kind. But while attendees were busy walking around the exhibits and talking with vendors, myself along with Pip from 555 Fitness and Chief Miller were busy feeding and training the firefighters of Decatur Twp. FD with The Battalion TV!
The mission of the day was simple...treat the brothers and sisters at Decatur Twp. FD with a day of functional fitness, healthy cooking and social media expertise. The unique dynamic we (Pip, Chief Miller and myself) have is that we are all involved in "fields" that are currently seeing a surge in popularity amongst the fire service. Today more than ever, firefighters are aware of the benefits that healthy eating and fitness can have on themselves, their crews AND their families. Just based off the growth I have seen in Fork and Hose Co. and 555 Fitness is proof of this. And with social media pages like Chief Miller being as important as they are, it is much easier to get the word out about the change we are trying to pursue.
The day started off like any normal day shopping for firehouse meals, only this time I was in a different state, at a different supermarket, surrounded by brothers I don't "work with"....ok so maybe it wasn't that normal. But you know what, it felt like any other day because of the "brotherhood" I have with these guys. When I was planning the menu out for the day, I knew it had to be healthy yet approachable. And I think this conecpt is VITAL to anyone trying to change the way we eat in the fire service. All too often, there is someone who comes along in a firehouse thinking the whole crew will be on board with their "Salads for a Month" or "No Carbs for a Year" diet plans, but I have news for you....it won't work! This tactic will do nothing but turn off the brothers and sisters and they will ultimately go back to their old eating habits. This is a topic I will discuss in the next Blog so stay tuned... now back to the menu.
Tacos are always a hit at the firehouse because they are relatively cheap, filling, easy to make and versatile. Think about it, you can basically put anything in a tortilla and call it a taco. I would also say that tacos are probably in the top 3 as far as popular meals that get "submitted" in to Fork and Hose Co. So I decided to make 2 types of tacos, both with mostly healthy ingredients but tons of flavor that the crew might not be used to. Anyone can go down to Taco Bell and get that crap. I wanted to make something interesting so I incorporated ingredients not often seen on firehouse "menus", but I was worried that they might not have them at the store. But I'll be damned they did! Even the radish, kale and Mexican cheese! Pip and Chief Miller did a great job helping me shop. Although Chief definitely didn't play Quarterback as evident by his attempt to throw the pineapple into my cart. So after we had finally gathered all our ingredients it was time to head to the firehouse and surprise the crew with a healthy meal and great workout.
Sixteen months ago I was having dinner with my wife, when she turned to me and asked "What would you do if you weren't a fireman?". My response needed no further thought, "I would want to cook" I answered. One week later, we were sitting in the admission office at the International Culinary Center in Manhattan. I walked out of the school with so many thoughts going through my head that it felt like it was going to explode. But I also had a sense of belonging as we toured the kitchens of the building in SoHo. While it may have been premature, I couldn't help but feel as if that is where I needed to be. A month later, I started my 14 month journey in the Professional Culinary Arts Program at one of the best culinary schools in the nation.
I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about starting school. Here I was with among my classmates who for the most part were "career changers", yet in my case I was a "career adder". Working 24 hour shifts, mutual swaps and on top of that culinary class on Tuesday and Thursday nights was sure to be a challenge. But I knew with the help of my brothers at work as well as the support of my family, anything was possible.
With this being my first blog post, let me start off by giving you the lowdown on who I am and why I am here. My name is AJ Fusco and I have been a career firefighter with the Harrison Fire Department in New York for 11 years, and you could probably say that is about how long I have been seriously passionate about cooking. When I started on the job, it was immediately evident to me that the kitchen is the most important room in the firehouse. It is around the table where we solve the world's problems, talk about "jobs" and just break eachother's chops. And then it is meal time, and while all firehouses are different when it comes to who cooks and who is doing the dishes, one thing remains a constant....we all sit down and eat together. Prepping the meal, eating and even cleaning up all build stronger bonds amongst a crew. Once I realized how important cooking is in the firehouse, I knew I wanted to share it with the world. And thus Fork and Hose Co. was born...
I started a simple blog with my intentions being that I would share my own recipes with maybe some family, friends and other local firehouse chefs. Little did I know that it would grow to an online community of firefighters from all over the world who share the same passion for cooking. The goal of F&H Co. has always been and always will be to inspire everyone in the kitchen. After sometime, this goal has had a slight "makeover" in that we also try to show the importance of healthier eating in the firehouse. We all know the staggering statistics of LODD's and cardiac related incidents, and one way to lower these is through nutrition in the kitchen.
I look forward to discussing all thing culinary with you guys! Stay safe, eat well!