Paragus Firehouse Cook Off benefits September 29 at Polar Park

WORCESTER – Firehouse life can bring out the best of the best in Worcester, and especially when it comes to creating culinary delights. Firefighters can also be competitive, even when it comes to who can outplay who.

The best of the Worcester Fire Department’s culinary skills will be on display Sept. 29 for the inaugural Paragus Firehouse Cook Off, starting at 5 p.m. at Polar Park.

“These guys are in the homes 24/7, and they’re cooking all the time on the station,” said Lt. John Franco, WFD’s point man for the event, which will benefit residents. Worcester Firefighters 6K road race charities. “And they can be very competitive.”

The city’s fire stations work with local chefs to create their best meal, satisfying palates with various ethnic cuisines, judging by local business chefs. Following the judging, firefighters and chiefs from nine entry stations representing fire stations will serve samples, greet and meet those in attendance for the family event.

Franco noted that Paragus Strategic IT, the event’s lead sponsor, reached out to Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Tim Murray about the potential for such an event in the city. Murray referred Paragus to Franco, who for 18 years was race director for the Worcester Firefighters 6K.

Other event sponsors include Keches Law Group, Niche Hospitality and Glickman, Kavago and Jacobs Real Estate.

“The goal is to make it an annual event and try to make it more attractive every year,” said Franco, who is retiring in December after 34 years with the WFD. “The event is designed to pass the proceeds on to charities, and it was a no-brainer to team up with them. This event can only grow and become more impressive.”

The Worcester Fire Department has held chili kitchens in the past, and talks surfaced of planning another when this Firehouse Cook Off idea came up.

Polar Park is the site of the first Paragus Firehouse Cook Off, starting at 5 p.m. on September 29.

“The idea that we can make food and we’re still cooking, of course, that’s an interesting idea,” said Franco, who works at the Franklin Street station. “We have a lot of good cooks. It’s going to be fun – we’re delighted.”

Proceeds benefit Firefighters 6K charities

The Worcester Firefighters 6K, the beneficiary of this event and which will run for the 22nd time in June, began as a fundraiser for a memorial to the six firefighters who died on December 3, 1999, in the Worcester Cold Storage and Warehouse fire Co. . After the race’s second year, the WFD 6K became a charity event.

“We wanted to give back to the community that has done so much for us and provided so much support,” said Franco, who remains WFD 6K treasurer after handing over the duties of race director to Lt. Pat Chviruk.

The WFD 6K raised over $600,000. The main charities in recent years are NEADS, the Genesis Club and the American Foundations for Suicide Prevention. The race continues to honor Worcester firefighters Paul Brotherton, Timothy Jackson, Jeremiah Lucey, Jay Lyons, Joseph McGuirk and Thomas Spencer, who died in the Worcester Cold Storage fire, and Jon Davies, Christopher Roy and Jason Menard, who died in the fires of houses in the city. since.

“Our nine deceased brothers,” Franco said. “As long as there are runners, the race will last forever.”

Proceeds from the Paragus Firehouse Cook Off will go to the Worcester Firefighters 6Ks charities.

The nine competitor stations will be spread along the Polar Park lobby, the concession stand will be open and a catering business will also serve food.

“Polar Park has been great with us, bent over backwards to accommodate us,” Franco said.

Tickets are $30, $20 for firefighters and their families, and children under 10 are admitted free. Participants will receive a commemorative t-shirt. There is a maximum of 500 tickets sold.

For more information and tickets, visit or

The event will be the culmination of a healthy cooking contest between the brotherhood of firefighters.

“Guys talk a lot about trash,” Franco said. “That’s all they talk about now. Like I said, we like competition.”

Contact John Conceison at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @ConceisonJohn.