Cranston Firefighter Dan Rinaldi Exhibits Off Cooking Chops in PBS’s Seek for “The Great American Recipe”

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Courtesy of PBS/VPM.

Starting this Friday, June 24, ten gifted dwelling cooks will grace our screens and compete in PBS’s seek for “the Great American Recipe.” Amongst these chosen to share their signature dishes with the world is Rhode Island’s very personal Dan Rinaldi. We caught up with the Cranston firefighter by day and meal maker by evening forward of the premiere to be taught a little bit extra about his Italian cooking roots, his time on the present and his favourite Rhode Island eats.

Congrats on representing Rhode Island within the present! Did you develop up right here?

I’m from Providence; I grew up within the metropolis and now I dwell only one road over the town line in Cranston. So, I’m just about nonetheless in Providence. I grew up in a 3 decker proper throughout the road from my grandmother’s three-decker. It was good as a result of my aunt was on the primary flooring, my uncle was across the nook and my different uncle lived three homes down in one other three-decker. We grew up in three-decker-ville. There was at all times any person from the household round. I might by no means screw up as a child, clearly, as a result of there have been one million eyes watching me.

How did you get into cooking?

I grew up cooking with my grandmother, mother, aunts, just about everyone in my household.

The very first thing I bought my fingers on, bodily, was most likely pasta. My aunts and everyone would come over on a Saturday and they’d simply make pastas. They would give me a chunk once I was 5 – 6 years outdated simply to maintain me quiet, like ‘yea, you’re going to assist us make the pasta for tomorrow.’ I’m positive it was tossed within the rubbish after, as a result of God solely is aware of the place my fingers had been. But that’s just about my first recollection of hands-on cooking: making contemporary pasta.

What different sorts of issues did you and your loved ones make?

My grandmother caught proper in her wheelhouse of creating all the old-fashioned conventional Italian stuff. My mom additionally made all of that, however she would prepare dinner a steak once in a while, too. You would by no means see a steak at my grandmother’s.

Did you ever think about turning into a chef or going into the restaurant enterprise?

I did go to Johnson and Wales on a area journey in highschool throughout both junior or senior yr and thought, ‘Oh, it might be kind of cool to go here.’ But then I took the fireplace division take a look at once I was seventeen and subsequent factor you already know, I’m on the fireplace division. All that [Johnson and Wales consideration] glided by the wayside and I used to be completely dedicated to the fireplace division at that time. But I nonetheless cooked at dwelling.

Do you prepare dinner for the firehouse?

We take turns cooking on the firehouse as a result of it’s so busy. You might by no means be the only prepare dinner. So, you’ll have your week to prepare dinner. I often make a meat sauce for the home — that’s a fairly constant one. The recipe is handed down from my grandmother. You know the way Sunday gravy is—it’s form of like chili in Texas. Every firehouse is cooking it on any given day, and everybody has their very own model of it. 

What are a few of your different go-to recipes and traditions out of your grandmother?

During the wintertime, I’ll make her pasta e fagioli or a lentil soup. We truly couldn’t eat an excessive amount of of the heavier pastas in her home as a result of when my grandfather was in WWII, he was run over by a half-track. If it wasn’t for the wet season within the South Pacific at the moment, he would have been useless. He bought squashed down into the mud, however he did find yourself dropping 2/3 of his abdomen and consequently he couldn’t eat heavy cheeses and issues like that. So, I by no means had lasagnas and issues of that nature for probably the most half rising up. My mom would make them generally, however not my grandmother. She would additionally do sausage and rabe sandwiches and that’s turn into a basic for us. In truth, I simply made that yesterday as a result of I had picked all of the rabe from my backyard. Talk about farm to desk — simply twenty ft! Oh, after which, after all, some type of seafood on Fridays, no matter whether or not it’s Lent or not

How did you first hear concerning the present? Did you must submit a recipe?

That’s the million-dollar query that I don’t even have the reply to. I obtained an electronic mail at some point for a cooking present and I assumed it was a firefighter prank a little bit bit at first, to inform you the reality. Because these guys will undergo a limiteless quantity of power to drag off a prank. But then I begin going via it and I used to be like, ‘Oh wow, this is real.’ Next factor you already know, I’m going via this complete choice course of: submitting recipes, doing interviews, issues of that nature. Then, lastly, I’m one of many ten. Still, to today, I do not know how that electronic mail ended up in my inbox. I don’t have any social media. No Facebook, Twitter…. Nothing. But all the opposite contestants are on social media and have been simple to search out. I don’t know the way they discovered me.

Maybe you’ve a secret nominator!

I used to be questioning that myself. I used to be interested by that, making an attempt to suppose who might have finished this. But if somebody did, nobody’s owned as much as it!

 Did you develop up watching cooking reveals?

I did! I first began watching them after they did plenty of educating on the Food Network. Emeril’s present was actually good. But the one particular person I’m dying to fulfill sooner or later, I don’t care if I’ve to go to his restaurant in Cleveland, is Michael Symon. I bear in mind first seeing him — that is going again, perhaps twenty-five years — on Wayne Harley Brachman’s present. I used to be like this man’s chortle is infectious, simply humorous as may be. Then throughout the pandemic, he was doing one thing on-line… My spouse is aware of the entire social media factor, and he or she pulled up these movies of him doing cooking stuff in his home each single day. That was enjoyable to comply with alongside.

Did you are feeling a bit extra ready to your activate “the Great American Recipe” having watched these reveals?

I wouldn’t say I used to be extra ready than any of the opposite individuals there as a result of cooking is their career, or at the least an enormous factor they do. But I used to be ready for the lengthy days. I felt as if being a firefighter in a busy firehouse gave me a little bit little bit of an edge when it got here to psychological fatigue. Because most individuals aren’t used to being up twenty-four hours straight or working round like loopy. Some filming days have been sixteen, seventeen, eighteen hours lengthy, and then you definately’re up early the following morning for extra. I used to be like, ‘Alright, that’s proper in my wheelhouse. I can nonetheless perform in terms of that.’ I might say that was one of many issues that perhaps offset it a little bit, whereas different individuals could have had extra expertise in cooking within the kitchens.

How does this present work?

Each spherical you got a job like, ‘cook your favorite meal for your spouse’ or one thing like that. Then you’ll have a restricted period of time to prepare dinner and put it collectively after which the judges would style and choose it.

Can you inform us about any enjoyable behind-the-scenes stuff?

I don’t know what is going to make it on the air, however we had plenty of humorous moments, that’s for positive. Truthfully, when the cameras are rolling, you don’t even know what’s occurring with everybody else. The setup is totally different stations lined up one behind one another — so it’s like two facet by facet after which 5 of these in a row. I used to be on the first one, so I couldn’t see anything occurring — all the things was behind me. And then you definately’re so centered on what you’re doing as a result of the time goes by lightning quick.

Sounds worrying!

It’s a distinct form of stress.  It’s a little bit totally different than crawling down a smoke-filled three-decker! But it was good, we had enjoyable.

Did you get to strive the others’ recipes?

Everything was so quick paced. Especially that first spherical. As quickly as we completed, we just about needed to pack up and go as a result of the staff needed to get all of it cleaned up and reset for the following spherical. So, we actually didn’t get an opportunity to style plenty of the stuff. Which was unlucky, particularly when everyone seems to be so good! They’re all there for a motive. They can all prepare dinner they usually’re extraordinarily educated.


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Courtesy of PBS/VPM.

Did you turn into shut with any of the opposite contestants?

Oh, undoubtedly. We filmed final yr and have been there throughout COVID and have been just about in lock down. After filming, we actually might solely go to our rooms or go to the restaurant within the lodge advanced. We have been allowed to eat collectively as a result of we have been examined each single day. I didn’t understand what an enormous deal this present was until I bought there. There have been greater than 200 individuals on the employees. If I bought COVID at the moment, it could shut down the entire manufacturing. I don’t know something about TV or productions, however I do know it wasn’t low cost to be shutting down for just a few days. They have been making an attempt to maintain everybody very protected by conserving us in a bubble like that. So, we had dinner each evening and actually bought to know each other. That’s one factor I can say concerning the different 9 individuals: they’re good, respectable individuals. We nonetheless keep in contact. All ten of us are in a textual content thread and we discuss each single day. One of them, Nikki [Tomiano-Allemand], is coming to go to in a pair months — her son goes to have a look at PC for lacrosse. And then Foo [Nguyen] and I, we shuttle on a regular basis and simply bust one another up as a result of he’s an expert comic. 

Did you choose up something new?

I’m going to strive a Korean hen that Tony [Scherber] made.  He was within the station proper behind me and I at all times was in a position to flip round and style one thing that he was making. He’s actually good. So, yea, I’m gonna attempt to make his Korean hen. I wasn’t in a position to do an excessive amount of cooking after the present as a result of proper after I bought again, I had shoulder surgical procedure. I had a torn rotator cuff the entire time I used to be on the present, however you’ll by no means know. So cooking was on the again burner for a pair months, however I’m again at it now.

I consider I noticed you making a calamari dish in one of many previews… Was {that a} nod to your Rhody roots?

Of course, we’re the calamari capital of the nation! I can’t discuss an excessive amount of concerning the totally different rounds, nevertheless it was a part of a kind of themed rounds, let’s put it that approach. So, you may form of piece it collectively!

What are a few of your favourite Rhode Island meals?

I don’t even know the place to start with that! I like D Palmieri’s on Killingly Street. Best social gathering pizza there’s. I like Del’s Lemonade — I’m a Del’s man. I’ve one on the prime of my road. And I’m an enormous seafood man, too. But one among my actual favorites is Olneyville Wieners. I’m not an onion man, although, so I don’t order it completely all the way in which, however further mustard, further sauce, further celery salt. Oh my God, I like it. Greg does an awesome job over there.

It’s humorous, if you do all this cooking stuff, individuals routinely assume that you just’re a meals snob. Especially within the firehouse, I’ll say when one thing completely sucks. And it’s not as a result of I’m a meals snob, it’s as a result of it completely sucks and I can’t even inform it’s meals! The firehouse is brutal, consider me. I get it simply as unhealthy as I give it. People ask me concerning the judges on the present and I’m like, ‘I’m judged by these clowns on a regular basis, on the present they have been professionals!’

Anything else we must always learn about you?

I’ve been on the fireplace division for a little bit little bit of time, thirty-four years, however as a result of individuals see me do all of the cooking stuff and that’s what I’ll be identified for. It’s humorous as a result of I additionally work for a distinct firm and educate firefighters internationally. I’m going to go all the way down to Austin to show the Austin Fire Department quickly about elevator rescue. So, it’s like, I do all this nationwide and worldwide hearth service coaching, however I’ll at all times be the prepare dinner. But I’ll take it! I simply discover it humorous as a result of in all these different locations, the individuals don’t know I prepare dinner.


Well, now they may! Watch Dan Rinaldi showcase his culinary abilities on PBS’s “the Great American Recipe” Fridays at 9 p.m.

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