Home-Style Ham Panini

By Frank E. Vaerewyck, The Firehouse Foodie

"If we don't get the job done people might die and our brothers and sisters might also die. So we always lay it on the line and leave a little behind at every fire. I say that in a dark smoky hallway I can't tell the race, creed or sex of my fellow firefighter, I just know that they are with me. I don't care who or what you are as long as you are a firefighter and want to protect your brothers and sisters.” Leather forever. Stay low and let it blow!


-   Captain Mike Dugan, Ladder Co. 123, FDNY


Captain Dugan has a point. As firefighters, we are about the tightest group of people you will ever find. You don't even have to be from my department for me to care about you or mourn you when you are gone; all you have to have done is earn the title firefighter. On September 11, 2001, we lost 343 firefighters in the blink of an eye and many more since then from the issues they contracted searching for survivors in the rubble of the Twin Towers, but every firefighter in the world wanted to be beside those men and women, searching, looking for someone we have never had the pleasure of meeting but nonetheless had a connection to.

"The fire service, as a whole, is collectively still trying to recover from the effects of Sept. 11. The 343 members of the FDNY who made the supreme sacrifice that day will always be in our hearts and forever on our minds. As part of our F.O.O.L.'s "signature", R-F-B, "Remember Fallen Brothers", these heroes should never and will never be forgotten. This should also include ALL of our fallen Brothers, no matter where they were from, or the matter in which they died. Their names have been added to long list of those that have laid down their lives so that others may live.


- Lieutenant Michael Ciampo, FDNY


Being a firefighter is having a bond that even death cannot separate. We all know that death is inevitable, and none of us want to rush things, but if we were to lay down our life for yours, then the journey was worth it.


This month’s recipe is great to make with those you enjoy being with. It is a great lunch my wife and son just love. It's my home-style ham Panini. Though not a traditional panini, it's still great for lunch and “That's Bringing the Firehouse Home.”



Sandwich bread, sliced (your favorite style)

Deli sliced ham (your favorite kind)

Shredded Italian-style cheese (mozzarella, provolone, parmesan, and romano cheeses mixed)

Dijon mustard

Italian seasoning

Spreadable butter



  1. Spread butter on bread slices.
  2. Sprinkle Italian seasoning over butter; cover bread.
  3. Heat griddle or frying pan on med-high heat.
  4. Place one slice of bread, butter side down, on hot griddle or frying pan.
  5. Place Dijon mustard and deli sliced ham on sandwich bread.
  6. After a minute or two, place cheese on top of meat and second slice of bread.
  7. Flip sandwich over, and cook the uncooked side until bread is golden brown (typically 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted).
  8. Slice in half from one corner to the other and enjoy. It’s yum yum good!


Frank Vaerewyck has had a passion for the fire service that has spanned 20 years. He has been a volunteer and career firefighter and is currently a firefighter/EMT with the Manassas (VA) Volunteer Fire Company. He has passed on his passion for the fire service through instruction and mentorship. That same passion he has for the fire service is shared with his love of food. In 2006, Vaerewyck won an Iron Chef-style competition sponsored by a radio station in Richmond, Virginia. That is where he also furthered his education by attending a Culinary Arts Program.

As the Firehouse Foodie, he has been compiling recipes to be included in a cookbook that will give others the opportunity to see their hometown heroes not just as firefighters, but as the firehouse chefs they truly are.

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