Skip to main content

The Recipe for Camaraderie: Food and Firefighters

Three vertical images side by side featuring an LAFD firefighter adding tomato feta salad to his plate, Chef Mo holding his plate of chicken shawarma with sides of couscous and tomato feta salad, and a bowl of rainbow cherry tomatoes with chunks of feta.

Walk into any Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) fire station and firefighters will be ready to respond to any call at a moment’s notice. With fire engines tuned up and turnout gear carefully placed and ready to don, LAFD members are prepared to protect life, property, and the environment the second an alarm sounds.

Perhaps more unexpectedly, around lunchtime, it is not uncommon to see firefighters outfitted in aprons and oven mitts, spatulas and tongs in hand.

Firefighters across the country have a long-standing tradition of eating meals together. They spend countless hours together, knowing they could be interrupted by an alarm at any moment. The need to be accessible at all times and the bond that cooking and eating together creates are deeply interconnected. 

Fire station kitchens are the main gathering place where firefighters can monitor alarms, debrief after challenging incidents, or connect while waiting for the next dispatch.

Cultivating camaraderie through the shared love of food keeps the whole team, from rookies to captains, performing collectively at their best.

So, what do firefighters eat for lunch? This of course varies from station to station and can be simple or elaborate depending on the skill and expertise of the designated “chef.” But to get some inspiration, check out the delicious Meditteranean meal below, prepared by “Chef Mo” at Fire Station 63.

Oven-roasted Chicken Shawarma 


2 lemons, juiced 

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon of olive oil 

6 cloves of garlic, peeled, smashed, and minced 

1 teaspoon kosher salt 

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper 

2 teaspoons ground cumin 

2 teaspoons paprika 

½ teaspoon turmeric 

A pinch of ground cinnamon 

Crushed red pepper, to taste 

2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs 

1 large red onion, peeled and quartered 

2 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley


  1. Prepare a marinade for the chicken. Combine the lemon juice, ½ cup olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon, and crushed red pepper in a large bowl, then whisk to combine. Add the chicken and toss well to coat. Cover and store in the refrigerator for at least one hour and up to 12 hours for an even richer flavor. 
  2. When ready to cook, heat the oven to 425 degrees. Use the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to grease a rimmed sheet pan. Add the quartered onion to the chicken and marinade, and toss once to combine. Remove the chicken and onion from the marinade, and place them on the pan, spreading everything evenly across. 
  3. Put the chicken in the oven and roast until it is browned, crisp at the edges, and cooked through, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven, allow to rest for two minutes, then slice into bits. (To make the chicken even more crisp, set a large pan over high heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, then the sliced chicken, and sauté until everything curls tight in the heat.) 
  4. Scatter the parsley over the top and serve with tomatoes, cucumbers, pita, white sauce, hot sauce, olives, fried eggplant, feta, rice, and more. 

Fire-roasted Couscous


Extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, diced 

3 cloves garlic, minced 

1½ cups of whole wheat Israeli couscous 

1 cup of vegetable broth or water 

¼ cup of toasted pine nuts, pistachios, or almonds 

1 roasted red pepper, diced 

2 tablespoons of chopped parsley 

Zest and the juice of 1 lemon 

Kosher salt 

Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat a medium saucepan, lightly coated with extra virgin olive oil, over medium heat. Add onion and sweat for seven minutes, until translucent and soft. 
  2. Add garlic and cook for three minutes more until soft. 
  3. Add couscous, stirring occasionally, until toasted and lightly browned. 
  4. Add broth and cover. Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes or until couscous is slightly al dente. 
  5. Toss in toasted nuts, red pepper, parsley, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper, and additional extra virgin olive oil for richness and flavor. Serve hot or cold. 

Tomato Feta Salad 


4 pints of grape tomatoes, red or mixed colors 

1 ½ cups small-diced red onion (2 onions) 

¼ cup white wine vinegar 

6 tablespoons of olive oil 

1 tablespoon kosher salt 

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

¼ cup of chopped fresh basil leaves 

¼ cup of chopped fresh parsley leaves 

1 ½ pounds of feta cheese  


  1. Place the tomatoes in a large bowl. Add the onion, vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, basil, and parsley and toss well.
  2. Dice the feta into ½- to ¾-inch cubes, crumbling it as little as possible. Gently fold it into the salad and serve at room temperature. 



1 15-ounce can of chickpeas (or 1 ½ cups of cooked chickpeas) 

Fresh lemon juice from 1 large lemon

¼ cup of tahini  

1 small garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (plus more for serving)

Salt to taste

A dash of ground paprika, sumac, or Za’atar for serving


  1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor for one to three minutes.
  2. Scrape the sides and bottom of the blender or food processor, then process for 30 seconds more. This extra time helps “whip” or “cream” the tahini, making the hummus smooth and creamy.
  3. Taste, adjust, and re-process as needed.
  4. Serve hummus with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika, sumac, or Za’atar.

To make a beet hummus, which “Chef Mo” also prepared for lunch, follow the same steps as above, but add one small roasted beet to create a rich, purple color.