From Firefighting to Edible Enterprise

Eddie Sell Firehouse ChefsFiremen turned food business entrepreneurs have banded together to participate in the first annual Encinitas Foodie Fest Saturday, June 23rd from 10am-5pm at Pacific Station in Encinitas. John Gonzales of Bottaro Wood Fired Pizza, Don Heiser and Eddie Sell of Firehouse Chefs and Kim Blaylock of Venom Vodka are all supporting the community event bringing sustainable local gourmet food, art and business together to benefit the Coastal Community Foundation’s Healthy Day Fund.

It takes a very special type of person to become a career firefighter. An individual must be an all around good person and possess the ability to relate to people from all walks of life, regardless of race, creed, color, or wealth in the most extreme conditions. Core interpersonal skills combine with the ability to remain calm, understanding and sympathetic in dire situations and to bravely risk life and limb to protect others. The challenge of any call is “when you go out the door, everyone comes back.” This emphasis on teamwork and selfless dedication fosters a remarkable connection among firefighters not only within station houses but between city battalions and beyond to a nation and worldwide network. For example, former Chief of Encinitas Don Heiser went on one of the first ambassador trips to China directly following 9/11. The purpose of the trip was to share and exchange knowledge of firefighting expertise. Upon arriving in Beijing, the first words the national Chinese Commissioner expressed were his profound sadness at the loss of life in the World Trade Center tragedy. This sentiment was repeated throughout the trip in such remote villages as Kunming in the south. Locally, the Encinitas Fire Department recently loss one of its own to cancer. Fellow firefighters made sure that the widow had everything she needed to move on with her life from food in the refrigerator to mowing her lawn. Firefighters are constantly giving back to their community on the job front and by supporting numerous charities such as Healthy Day at the festival:

Bottaro Wood Fired Pizza
John Gonzales divides his time between active duty as an Encinitas fireman and his thriving pizza business. The son of a Spanish stone mason, John learned the skill from his father. Combined with his expert knowledge of fire science, this experience enabled him to build five top quality wood fire ovens so far. Yet it was John’s Italian mother, Yolanda, who taught him the love of cooking. John will be demonstrating how to make wood fired pizza from 10:00-10:45 at the chef’s demonstration stage the day of the event and will also provide pizzas for the VIP After-Party held that evening at Lemongrass Spa.

Chef John Gonzales

Firehouse Chefs
Don Heiser and Long Beach Fire Captain Eddie Sell are major partners of the Firehouse Chefs gourmet food truck. Operating the food truck out of Long Beach, the Firehouse Chefs will travel down to San Diego or as far North as Ventura for events. Recently featured on Good Day LA, Firehouse Chefs’ fame is sweeping southern California as a wonderful purveyor of fusion firehouse cuisine. The Firehouse Chefs truck will be parked on 101 in front of Pacific Station throughout the festival and will provide small plates at the VIP After-Party.

Michael Poole Grilling

Venom Vodka
Former Battalion Chief of Carlsbad Kim Blaylock and Seattle veteran fireman/partner Mark Miceli came up with the idea for Venom Vodka while hanging out on the Colorado River. Named after venomous desert wildlife in the area that inspired the venture, Venom Vodka is available at Albertsons along with other local stores and restaurants throughout Southern California. The Blaylocks are graciously donating their epicurean libation to the festival’s VIP After-Party.

Venom Vodka

About the Encinitas Foodie Fest
Saturday, June 23rd • 10am-5pm • Pacific Station, Encinitas
A free family fun event bringing the community together to elevate public awareness about sustainable foods and products while promoting the arts, local business and the Coastal Community Foundation’s Healthy Day fund. Plus superb artisanal food vendors, food trucks, amazing live music, an entertaining children’s cooking booth and fun for all!

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About Jolee Pink

I am a California-based writer, designer, artist, super foodie and avid traveler. I view travel as a superlative learning experience and have visited nearly 50 countries. As the author of Living Coastal: Inspirations for Entertaining, Decorating and Cooking California Style, I brought together artists and chefs to capture the spirit of San Diego influenced by the Pacific Ocean. The Wabisabi Green lifestyle blog focuses on art, design, food and travel. My colorful ceramic sculpture has received national recognition and is on permanent display at Rady Children’s Hospital. I also design and market a boutique eco-friendly textile line featuring bold modern motifs based on nature, world travels and the southern California coastal lifestyle.
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