Thunderstruck: Seafood Fra Diavolo

By Frank Vaerewyck, “The Firehouse Foodie”

Being in fire and EMS has its awesome times too. We get to do special events on occasion and meet some pretty interesting people–celebrities, if you will, and we don’t have to win tickets on the radio or pay exorbitant amounts of money for some VIP package. I was reminded of this recently when Tina and I went to a Rascal Flatts concert in Virginia Beach; after paying good money for those tickets, I noticed some EMS personal walking around the venue and thought to myself, I wonder if they got to go back stage?

The upside of working events is you get in free, usually you have all access, you usually get fed, you usually get free drinks, you get to use clean bathrooms, and sit in air conditioning. The downside of working an event is the people in command put you where they need you, and not everyone can hang out with the stars. You only get that free food when they can get you relief to come eat, so it may not be hot if it’s supposed to be. Those free drinks, we’re talking water, soda, tea, and the like, no “adult beverages.” You can’t party with your friends, cut up, and have a good time; remember, you’re in uniform. All in all, the pros outweigh the cons.

My most memorable event was my first NASCAR event in Richmond, Virginia. My partner and I were assigned to the VIP boxes the first half of the race and the Corporate Execs from Coca Cola really took care of us with all the cold Coca Cola we could drink and a buffet that rivaled most Chinese restaurants as well as stadium seating. We were able to hang out in the press box and see the race from so many places at Richmond International that were off limits to the general public. When we thought it couldn’t get any better, Command moved us to the Pit area and we were right there next to all the action, lap after lap, until the end.

I have been fortunate enough to meet some pretty famous people like Travis Tritt, Jeff Gordon, and Randy Mantooth from the TV Show EMERGENCY just to name a few. When meeting one particular celebrity, I asked for his autograph and with the most sincere look on his face he looked at us and said, “Sure, if you don’t mind giving me yours!” He added, “People think I’m some kind of hero, but I’m just an entertainer. I can remember a song or two. You guys save lives and make a real difference.” We were humbled by his sentiment but really, we have a job to do, and that’s all part of it. No matter how big and famous you get, or important people think you are, being grounded is a virtue and That’s Bringing the Firehouse Home!”

Seafood Fra Diavolo


1 jar marinara (26 oz.)

1/3 cup cayenne pepper sauce

1 bottle clam juice (8 oz)

¼ cup tomato paste

1 lb. scallops, halved if real big

1 lb. jumbo shrimp

6 to 8 servings cooked pasta such as spaghetti or linguine

parsley for garnish


  1. Combine marinara sauce, cayenne pepper sauce, clam juice, and tomato paste in large sauce pan. Heat to a boil, stirring often as to not allow mixture to stick. Reduce to simmer and simmer for 5 minutes until slightly thickened.
  2. Stir scallops and shrimp into sauce mix and simmer for an additional 5 minutes until seafood is cooked through.
  3. Place Fra Diavolo over pasta; garnish with diced basil and garlic, if desired. Garnish with parsley and enjoy.


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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