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Because it’s strange and beautiful and hot, people from everywhere converge on Florida and they bring their cuisine and their traditions with them. The Zest celebrates the intersection of food and communities in the Sunshine State.

Firehouse chef Manny FD on cooking for his 'second family' and right way to put out a kitchen fire


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This week, Emmanuel Washington Jr. answers our burning questions about life as a firehouse chef. Better known as Chef Manny FD (for fire department), the Miami native works for the Orlando Fire Department. In addition to being district chief, he’s also the resident chef at station 8, near Orlando International Airport.

Manny’s fellow firefighters devour his stuffed French toast, bacon jam burgers and mac and cheese, all of which are featured in his 2020 cookbook, Put Some Flames on Em! A Chef Manny FD Comfort Food Cookbook.

Growing up with a dad who was also a firefighter/chef, Manny learned to cook as a kid by watching his parents and grandmother. He honed his skills by enrolling in the occasional culinary class, reading books and taking on unpaid internships. He’s demonstrated his culinary skills on cooking competition shows including Cutthroat Kitchen, MasterChef and Food Network Star.

In this conversation, Manny shares how being a firefighter has made him a better chef, the advice Alton Brown gave him that helps him cook faster and the right way to put out a kitchen fire.

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