Firefighter’s cooking passion leads to Food Network
David “Dewey” Atkocaitis was selected out of thousands of applicants to be featured cooking with Sunny Anderson on the Food Network. | Contributed photo
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Updated: December 2, 2012 6:41AM
RIVER GROVE — All the years David “Dewey” Atkocaitis has been cooking have paid off.
A full-time Northlake firefighter and part-time deputy fire chief in River Grove, Atkocaitis was selected out of thousands of applicants to be featured cooking with Sunny Anderson on the Food Network.
Atkocaitis watched his father cook growing up, and so, he took an interest.
“It just progressed when I got to the fire department,” Atkocaitis said. “I started cooking all the time and it just became a passion.”
This led him to appearing on daytime’s “Regis and Kelly” for a cooking contest two years ago. After that, he appeared in a local food show called “Feeding the Fire.” These events led him to the opportunity with Sunny Anderson and the Food Network.
Atkocaitis saw Food Network was looking for a home cook in an Internet posting. He sent the network an e-mail telling them about himself, and two days later, they called him, asking some more questions.
“I hadn’t heard from them in months after that,” he said. “Then out of the blue I got an e-mail saying they were looking to start filming and feature me on the show.”
Anderson came to the River Grove firehouse to film the show on Sept. 6. Atkocaitis and Anderson cooked buffalo chicken lasagna and southwestern vegetable coleslaw. They filmed for almost 12 hours, which was edited down to a 15-minute segment. The segment was scheduled for airing Oct. 27.
“Home Made in America with Sunny Anderson” airs Saturdays on Food Network at 9:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m. Central.
Since filming the show, Atkocaitis has started a cooking blog. On average, he gets about 5,000 viewers a week. He was selected along with 20 other food bloggers to Cook Along with Emeril Lagasse. This means Atkocaitis cooks foods from Lagasse’s new cook book and posts about it on his blog.
“One day, I got an e-mail saying that Emeril was following me on Twitter,” he said. “I told him I was a big fan of his. Then he replied, ‘I’m quickly becoming a big fan of yours.’”
Lagasse also featured Atkocaitis’ Capri sandwich on his Facebook page.
Atkocaitis will continue food blogging and cooking for his family. He hopes one day he will land his own cooking show. Most of all, he will continue cooking for his fellow firefighters.