Friday, November 2, 2012

The Eye of the Storm

Editor's Note:  Due to the massive hurricane that battered our area, power has been off for the past several days and thus Vinny has been unable to provide any postings on this website.  I am happy to now resume my weekday reports, starting today.

 Much if not all of the east coast of the United States nervously awaited what was being dubbed "The Storm of the Century" to come ashore.  Indications of a major weather event had been in the news for nearly a week beforehand and with each passing hour the news was becoming even more dire.  Local authorities were warning residents to prepare for severe conditions with heavy rain and high winds.

     In our own community emergency organizations were getting themselves prepared by reviewing procedures and checking the readiness of their equipment.  Crews were being scheduled to staff centers around the clock for the duration of "Frankenstorm."  This included the members of the North Penn Volunteer Fire Company in North Wales, the little borough where I was raised and where I am still a member.  Knowing that my days of riding the tailboard of a fire truck are long past (they don't even do that anymore) I decided to provide another valuable service.  I offered to feed the crews who were standing by in the station to respond to any emergency that might arise.  Under normal conditions the fire fighters and EMT personnel respond from home in an emergency, but with the storm of this magnitude it might not be possible to get to the firehouse, hence the round the clock staffing of those willing and able to stay there.

     With the blessing and encouragement of Fire Chief Chris Park I put together a grocery list and also sought donations of food and supplies that could feed 20-30 people a day for at least 3 days.  So by Sunday afternoon the shelves were well stocked with purchased food and gracious donations from Alice Bakery and Confectionary just a few doors down and I began to literally cook up a storm.

     I must admit it was the first time I had ever made 10 gallons of chili at one time.  So with lots of ground beef, onions, tomato sauce, kidney beans and garlic, and a very large pot along with some various spices that I found in the kitchen I donned my chef's cloak and got to work.  It turned out that I was sharing the kitchen with a caterer who had brought in enough food to feed a christening party of 150 in the upstairs social hall.  But with the threat of the storm looming in every one's minds many had rethought their decision to attend and only 50 showed up.  Learning of our plan to stay in the firehouse 24/7 until the storm had passed we were also the recipients of some simmering meatballs and 2 pans of unbaked ziti and sausage in cheese sauce.

     It has been said that an army travels on their stomach and the same holds true for an organization like the fire company.  So the troops were well fed and ready at a moment's notice to put their experience and training to the test.  For two days I cooked and baked and put smiles on the faces of those awaiting the storm's fury.  While some might consider this a daunting task, for me it was pure joy.  No one left our make shift dining area hungry.  The menu included my now famous chili, meatball sandwiches, ziti with sausage, and some pretty tasty white bean and kale soup, along with my testosterone pumping Man Cookies mentioned in a previous posting.

     Now 4 days post Hurricane Sandy the wrath of the storm is still very visible around town and some are still awaiting the return of power to their homes and businesses.  But the meals served at the firehouse still brings a smile to the faces of those first responders and to the chef, too.



  1. I tell ya - FEMA could use a good chef like you! "Disaster Chef, will travel."

  2. I love it!! I bet some of those guys never ate so well!! its like when i go camping with people who cook better/more on a campfire than I do in my own kitchen.