Miami staple, Fireman Derek Kaplan hosted his Midnight breakfast event at the National Hotel this morning which highlighted “firehouse” food from different Fire departments throughout the County. Kaplan, who is an active firefighter for the City of Miami, has perfected the art of pie making and has a successful bakery in his spare time located in Wynwood. Kaplan’s specialty is the classic Key Lime pie and makes a variety of other pies plus homemade ice cream and more. There are more like Fireman Derek in the different firehouses of Miami-Dade county because event goers were able to sample the firehouse food dishes. One of the best were the Smokehouse brisket on a bun from Key Biscayne FD and the “Hialeah-style” Sausage and Gravy (special because the sausage was Spanish chorizo and sweet plantains mixed into the gravy).
The National Hotel provided the best setting for this firehouse expo. The full length pool from the steps of the hotel back to the beach lit up the dim passageway and gave off the feeling that the event was actually at the house of a reclusive rich person. The lobby of the hotel was teeming with activity–a firefighters donation table in the immediate corner, a cabaret lounge at mid-lobby with its own, interested crowd and some booths towards the back where lovers could be seen canoodling discretely. Everywhere in the National was a place where the public could enjoy themselves or be left alone. Many times native Miamians have walked up and down Collins Avenue and perhaps couldn’t or didn’t find time to walk into see the National Hotel, and it is worth the investment of a weekend stay.
The party was opened with everyone huddling around tables to taste the different foods, whether crawfish and grits, cuban frittatas, southern style chicken and waffles, french toast cupcakes with bacon toppings, and so on. Kahlua and Absolut had stations standing by to help patrons wash down the food with delicious beverages. Chrissy Tiegen also supplied her own food selection–a healthy dessert choice of Yellow Cake baked oatmeal. She also was promoting her new cookbook, “Cravings”, which is the No. 2 bestseller right now. “Firehouse” cooking isn’t about the amount of spices in the food that firefighters eat. It is when a selected firefighter cooks for all the others in the firehouse during their 24 hour shifts together. They add a bit of their upbringing and creativity to prepare food for their secondary families. Firefighting traditions in major cities like New York, Chicago, Boston are long but Miami’s is equal in pride and love.