Firefighters compete on cooking stage at Southern Ideal Home Show

aweigl@newsobserver.comSeptember 24, 2013 

  • What’s cooking at the Southern Ideal Home Show

    Here is the schedule of cooking demonstrations on the Home & Kitchen stage:

    • Firefighters from Raleigh, Durham and Morrisville will compete in a cook-off at 1 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

    • Eddie Casanave, aka The Kitchen Casanova, will show his guacamole and salsa recipes at 2 p.m. Friday, noon Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday.

    • Casanave will show how to make seared tuna sliders at 3 p.m. Saturday.

    The Southern Ideal Home Show takes place Friday-Sunday at the N.C. state fairgrounds. Tickets cost $9. Info:

At this weekend’s Southern Ideal Home Show, firefighters from Durham, Raleigh and Morrisville will be using flames – instead of putting them out – to battle each other in a cooking competition.

At firehouses, where firefighters often work 24-hour shifts, the cooking often falls to one or two people. The home show organizers decided to show off that culinary talent on the show’s cooking stage during the three-day event, which starts Friday at the N.C. fairgrounds in Raleigh.

Among the firehouse chefs will be Cliff Cates, 42, a battalion chief with the Morrisville Fire Department. Cates, who lives in Mebane, started out as a volunteer firefighter in Hillsborough but has been working full time fighting fires since 1997.

His colleagues appreciate his culinary skill. “I have been told when you aren’t here, we don’t eat,” Cates said.

Morrisville Fire Chief Todd Wright echoes that sentiment: “He’s a great cook. We’ve had a few chili cook-offs. It seems like every single time he wins.”

That chili is one of the dishes that Cates is known for making, along with his Parmesan asparagus and a dish called “a fatty,” or a bacon-wrapped meatloaf glazed with grape jelly and barbecue sauce. For the competition, Cates plans to make a glazed chicken with peppered goat cheese, au gratin potatoes and Parmesan asparagus with hollandaise sauce.

Cates’ cooking is so well known that sometimes police and paramedics stationed nearby will join the firefighters for dinner.

The firefighters’ cooking stage appearance is not just for fun. Cates said they hope to raise awareness and collect funds for the N.C. Firefighters’ Burned Children Fund, which raises money to help burn survivors and their families and to prevent burn injuries.

Weigl: 919-829-4848; Twitter: @andreaweigl

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service