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Lodi firefighter Kris Graves appears on Food Network show

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Posted: Wednesday, June 15, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 6:17 am, Thu Jun 16, 2011.

Lodi firefighter Kris Graves literally gave his blood, sweat and tears to fulfill a life-long dream: starring in a cooking show on the Food Network.

He shed blood after cutting his finger two hours before he was supposed to feed 100 people. He dripped with sweat while running through an unfamiliar grocery store grabbing supplies. And he teared up while talking about his mother, who died of cancer six years ago.

Kris will appear on "24 Hour Restaurant Battle" with his fraternal twin brother, Mike, at 10 p.m. Thursday on the Food Network. The show gives contestants 24 hours to come up with a restaurant design and decor, buy supplies, prep the food and then serve 100 hungry customers, who are ordering off a menu.

While in New York, he had cameras in his face for three days straight. He had his cellphone and laptop taken away from him. And the producers continuously pressured him to lose his composure and yell at his brother.

The 33-year-old said he is still not sure how he feels about the whole experience, although he definitely would do it again.

"I don't know how to react. ... It was an absolutely great experience, but I hated it at the time," Kris said.

The main aspect he struggled with was not being in control, and having limited time to perfect every dish.

"I hated it because I didn't think I was doing anything good enough," Kris said.

The episode, titled "Firehouse Cooks," pits the twins, who live in Santa Rosa, against another team composed of a firefighter from Brooklyn and one of his fraternity brothers. Bragging rights and $10,000 are at stake.

The twins grew up watching their mom and grandparents in the kitchen making "down-home, country food," Kris said. Their grandparents even owned a greasy spoon restaurant. He then honed his skills while trying out new recipes for Lodi firefighters during their 24-hour shifts.

The two breezed through two casting calls, and a couple months ago, they headed to New York.

The three-day trip started with the twins spending the six-hour flight memorizing all of the ingredients, measurements and cooking temperatures in the recipes they planned to serve.

When they landed, the show's producers took away their cellphones and laptops. They received $4,000 to spend on food and to decorate their restaurant.

They were given an hour to shop at a large grocery store with ingredients ranging from slabs of pork to salt, and the producers required them to stay together the whole time.

"It was a nightmare. We split up the list, but we couldn't split up, so we were running all over," Graves said.

On the second day, the twins prepped the rest of the food, finished all of the decor and then served about 100 people plus the four judges.

The show has customers come in and check out both restaurants and their menu before choosing where they are going to eat. Kris prepared three appetizers, three entrees and two desserts.

Kris said the judges loved his seven-spice-rub pork tenderloin on top of a spicy cranberry chutney. He also made his mother's chocolate chip Kahlua cake.

"I wanted that country feel but to kick it up a notch, so I wasn't just serving the judges country-fried steak," Kris said.

On the third day, Kris and Mike filmed all of their extra commentary the producers use to weave the episodes together.

As a contestant, Kris said it was amazing to watch the foresight required to put together an engaging reality show. At one point, the executive producer pulled all the cameras off him, and told him he was doing a good job but needed to show more emotion.

"They want the show to be edgy, so they said, 'We want to see you freak out a little bit. Lose your mind, lose your composure,'" Kris said.

This request was especially hard because, day in and day out, Kris is constantly faced with situations where he has to calmly solve problems as a firefighter.

"I get paid to not freak out. I don't freak out," he said.

The producers even provoked a fight between him and his brother, encouraging them to argue about a main ingredient they forgot to pick up at the store.

Throughout the three days, the producers also tried to get the twins to cry while remembering their mom, Patti, who died in 2004 of uterine cancer at the age of 54.

They both finally cracked in front of the judge's table when talking about her chocolate cake and her influence on their love of food.

"They kept bringing up my mom to get some man tears. Like I said, blood, sweat and tears. I'm sure I will get ridiculed for some of the things at the firehouse," he said.

While he would not yet describe himself as a star, Graves hopes he can turn his appearance on the show into another outlet for his culinary abilities.

He will be watching the show with his family and friends at Guy Fieri's restaurant in Santa Rosa, and hopes the Food Network star will show up.

So far, there are no cooking shows with firefighters, and he said it is an untapped market. Whenever he goes to the grocery store, people constantly stop him to ask what he is cooking, if he has any recipes and when they can stop by for dinner.

"We are known for being good cooks and that familial attitude. Why wouldn't people want to see that?" he said.

In the meantime, he has started a charity with his wife and cousin to help people with cancer pay their mortgages, travel to appointments or buy groceries. He named it The Mama Bear Foundation, in honor of his mom.

"We want to ease the monetary strain cancer causes," he said.

Kris will also keep trying out new recipes and serving up meals at the firehouse.

"The only thing I do differently is I cook with love. I know that sounds cheesy, but I'm passionate about it. It's like that movie 'Chocolat,' except I'm not a Latin American woman living in the '40s riding a horse," Kris said.

Contact reporter Maggie Creamer at maggiec@lodi news.com or read her blog at www.lodinews.com/blogs/city_buzz.

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9 comments:

  • Ryan Jameson posted at 7:54 am on Sat, Jun 18, 2011.

    Ryan Jameson Posts: 195

    Doug, I would never have any need or desire to lug a hose around like the fire gods. So your scenario is void. So if I am understanding you correctly, you think that the ability to hold a high pressure 4" hose gives you the right to waste taxpayer money with grocery store trips?

     
  • Doug Chaney posted at 7:39 am on Sat, Jun 18, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    Ryan, what a rebuttal. Getting laid? These firefighters also provide professional emergency services and are almost always first responders on any 911 emergency medical call. They provided those valuable services for me last November when I had a major heart attack, responding in just over a minute at my residence from the fire station near Elm to administer life saving techniques and oxygen until AMR arrived and transported me to the hospital. And, yes, they are my heroes, got a problem with that? My offer still stands to show you the receiving end of that fire hose. I'll bet those "hose jockeys" would turn out in hordes to save your life when that 4" fire hose starts beating you to death?

     
  • JoAnne Mounce posted at 11:08 pm on Thu, Jun 16, 2011.

    JoAnne Mounce Posts: 17

    You did a awesome job Kris! Congratulations on winning the battle. You and your brother Mike made Lodi proud.

     
  • Ryan Jameson posted at 9:53 am on Thu, Jun 16, 2011.

    Ryan Jameson Posts: 195

    Doug I don't think I made a silly comment at all. I think it is utterly ridiculous how much we see fire engines parked in grocery store parking lots. How much fuel is being burned on these little excursions? That fuel is tax payer dollars! It does not take multiple trips to the store from a single firehouse in a single day. Trust me, on a daily basis I see the same shiny red fire truck and the same hose jockeys going to the same same store several times on the same day. They claim to be grocery shopping but I suspect that they are really trying to pick up girls. After all they are "heroes" and they have a really dangerous job the three times a year they actually fight a fire. Chicks just love that!!! Of course the cost of the hose jockeys getting laid is only tax payer money for all the fuel they consume. Let's face it Doug, there are dangerous factors to the hose jockeys chosen profession, but these guys have you suckered in to thinking they are constantly "in danger" and therefore you should fall on your knees and worship them as the "fire gods". Of course whenever a situation is too dangerous for the FD who do they always call to come protect them? The PD.

     
  • Doug Chaney posted at 9:27 am on Thu, Jun 16, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    oops!

     
  • Doug Chaney posted at 9:27 am on Thu, Jun 16, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    Ryan, maybe you can make such an absurd statement such as that when your house is burning down and it takes 10 minutes to get any response because of layoffs, cuts in communication, station closures and cutbacks. I'd just love to take you out with me or the FD and give you a 2 1/2, or worse yet, 4" fire hose connected to a hydrant and allow me to open that hydrant with anywhere from typically 60-120psi and watch as you tried to control that hose alone. It would have to be in a vacant field in order for that flying hose not to kill you or someone else or severely damage structures or anything else in its way. And if that fire hose happens to bee attached to a fire truck with pumper capabilities, the pressure can be boosted to over 200psi. I've conducted every test imaginablle concerning flow tests and undergound flushing of systems for foreign materials, dirty muddy water and debris for fire districts in the western US and that was always the most worrisome part of my job, especially fire pump room electric or diesel flow tests. It was my responsibility being foreman to devise a system to lash those fire hoses down to keep them from moving and then getting next to the dangerous nozzles long enough to insert a pitot tube into the stream to verify the psi with either one or more electric or diesel fire pumps running at maximum rpm's or the system control valve wide open, all the while getting soaking wet in the process. That's why I always made sure I had a good apprentice with me to be my pitot tube man. Flushing any underground installation requires the same process as full flow processes, except the fire hose has to have an open end to assure the FD a full flow with usually a 4" fire hose with an open end so the FD is able to see what washes from the entire underground fire protection system installation and if not secured properly can start whipping like a snake withas little as 40psi, damaging anything in its way, including a risk to human life or a debilitating lifetime injury. Most fire jurisdictions want anywhere from 1 to 5 minute full flows with the control valves wide open or the diesel or electric fire pumps running full bore. I bring this very important point up to illustrate the initial hazards of being a firefighter that most don't realize exist. How many would think that those tuna eating firefighters face that simple risk before getting down to the real nitty gritty? Today's firefighters are fortunate to have fire hose nozzles and apparatus that either reduce the pressure or use special water dispersing fire hose nozzles to allow one man to control a smaller, lower pressure fire hose. Or as with the ladder apparatus trucks, there are special attachments with directional nozzles that are securely held that only require the firefighter to simply point the water stream toward the desired area. Between firefighters and the fire sprinkler fitters tradesmen, both union and non-union, the people of the world are assured the best possible fire protection and firefighting techniques in the world to keep them as safe as possible with the only restriction being the area lawmakers and fire code laws and the extent to which they are enacted and enforced and the funding available to each particular area.

     
  • Doug Chaney posted at 9:27 am on Thu, Jun 16, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    Ryan, maybe you can make such an absurd statement such as that when your house is burning down and it takes 10 minutes to get any response because of layoffs, cuts in communication, station closures and cutbacks. I'd just love to take you out with me or the FD and give you a 2 1/2, or worse yet, 4" fire hose connected to a hydrant and allow me to open that hydrant with anywhere from typically 60-120psi and watch as you tried to control that hose alone. It would have to be in a vacant field in order for that flying hose not to kill you or someone else or severely damage structures or anything else in its way. And if that fire hose happens to bee attached to a fire truck with pumper capabilities, the pressure can be boosted to over 200psi. I've conducted every test imaginablle concerning flow tests and undergound flushing of systems for foreign materials, dirty muddy water and debris for fire districts in the western US and that was always the most worrisome part of my job, especially fire pump room electric or diesel flow tests. It was my responsibility being foreman to devise a system to lash those fire hoses down to keep them from moving and then getting next to the dangerous nozzles long enough to insert a pitot tube into the stream to verify the psi with either one or more electric or diesel fire pumps running at maximum rpm's or the system control valve wide open, all the while getting soaking wet in the process. That's why I always made sure I had a good apprentice with me to be my pitot tube man. Flushing any underground installation requires the same process as full flow processes, except the fire hose has to have an open end to assure the FD a full flow with usually a 4" fire hose with an open end so the FD is able to see what washes from the entire underground fire protection system installation and if not secured properly can start whipping like a snake withas little as 40psi, damaging anything in its way, including a risk to human life or a debilitating lifetime injury. Most fire jurisdictions want anywhere from 1 to 5 minute full flows with the control valves wide open or the diesel or electric fire pumps running full bore. I bring this very important point up to illustrate the initial hazards of being a firefighter that most don't realize exist. How many would think that those tuna eating firefighters face that simple risk before getting down to the real nitty gritty? Today's firefighters are fortunate to have fire hose nozzles and apparatus that either reduce the pressure or use special water dispersing fire hose nozzles to allow one man to control a smaller, lower pressure fire hose. Or as with the ladder apparatus trucks, there are special attachments with directional nozzles that are securely held that only require the firefighter to simply point the water stream toward the desired area. Between firefighters and the fire sprinkler fitters tradesmen, both union and non-union, the people of the world are assured the best possible fire protection and firefighting techniques in the world to keep them as safe as possible with the only restriction being the area lawmakers and fire code laws and the extent to which they are enacted and enforced and the funding available to each particular area. You're much more intelligent than that silly comment, Ryan, and I respect you for that. I seem to be guilty of doing that quite often myself. Have a nice day and hope I could teach you something new today, as you do the same for me.

     
  • Doug Chaney posted at 9:23 am on Thu, Jun 16, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

     
  • Ryan Jameson posted at 5:48 am on Thu, Jun 16, 2011.

    Ryan Jameson Posts: 195

    This guy probably went grocery shopping with his entire fire station crew in the shiny red fire engine! Cause you know it takes 5 hose jockeys to buy a can of tuna.

     

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