Stanley: Firefighters serve pancakes with a purpose
BY BRIAN STANLEY Life of Brianfirstname.lastname@example.org October 24, 2013 8:48PM
Joliet firefighter Brian Baudek (left) checks the batter as Scott Shear (center) and Nick Carbaugh look on while preparing for the pancake breakfast in 2011. This year's event will be from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. Sunday at St. Paul The Apostle School, 130 Woodlawn Ave. in Joliet. | Brian Stanley~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 26, 2013 6:37AM
Bob Wohlrab thinks the third time might be the charm because his crew has had two tries to get the bugs out.
The previous Joliet Firefighter Charities Association Pancake Breakfasts have been successful at raising funds to sponsor December’s Shop With A Fireman, where needy or abused children are taken to Sam’s Club to buy Christmas presents.
“But I think now we know what we’re doing,” the fire captain told me this week. “Some of us belong in the kitchen and some of us are more helpful out front.”
The breakfast runs from 7 a.m. to noon Sunday at St. Paul The Apostle Church Activity Center, 130 Woodlawn Ave.
The time has moved up earlier because “there’s nobody after 11,” Wohlrab advised any late risers. Although since the Bears aren’t playing Sunday, the crowds might not need to get home so early, he hoped.
Wohlrab and his crew don’t know how the link between firefighters and flapjacks for the public originated, but they’ve embraced it just like other departments have been doing for years.
“This is our final fundraiser of the year and we plan to take about 50 kids shopping. So anything we can think of to try to make money,” Wohlrab said, laughing.
Unfortunately, the roasted corn that Locals 44 and 2369 sell at the Taste of Joliet isn’t available this time of year. And even that popular item was discovered after a few years of trial and error.
“Once we had sloppy joes. When the Taste was downtown, we did snow cones and had everyone wear brand-new union shirts,” Wohlrab said. “After the first hour of using pump syrup we all looked like we’d been in a spray-painting contest.”
Syrup remains a constant since the firefighters have never run out of food during the pancake breakfast. While Wohlrab emphasized that the organization has been responsible, he admits there’s probably some syrup left over from last year at some of the station houses.
“We have plenty of egg salad right afterwards too,” he said.
The all-you-can-eat meal starts with coffee or orange juice, three or four pancakes, a large portion of eggs and sausage patties provided by McDonald’s.
“Patties work better than links. Bacon is too time-consuming. We don’t have that amount of grill space,” Wohlrab said.
The firefighters tried to make their own stainless steel grill the first year and ended up with a lot of food being cooked unevenly or too hot.
Chuck Frankie, a veteran of large breakfasts from the Stone City VFW Post, helped the firefighters set up a system of cooking and donated his own secret recipe to the cause.
“We really do owe him a certificate as the department’s pancake-training officer,” Wohlrab said.
The results are available for inspection Sunday morning at $8 for adults and $6 for children and seniors.