Kleenex helps local firefighters make Clermont chef's dream come … – Orlando Sentinel

They say the kitchen is the heart of any home, and it’s no different in a fire station.

So when 57-year-old Robert Scambia, of Clermont, made it his goal to cook for every firehouse in the state, the man affectionately called “Chef Rob” was stepping into a firefighter family.

“Never in 27 years [as a firefighter] have I been at a station where we didn’t sit down and eat together,” said Orange County Fire Rescue Lt. Derek Alligood. “People drop by and give cookies, but Chef Rob serves six-course meals.”

Scambia makes himself at home in station kitchens swarming with hungry firefighters, serving dinners five days a week.

The trained chef and part-time baker was recently honored in a unique way when OCFR teamed up with Kleenex to make his dream of publishing a cookbook come true. On Monday, the tissue brand published a tear-jerking video of OCFR firefighters presenting him with his first batch of printed cookbooks.

Scambia’s wife, Carolyn Scambia, said her husband’s devotion to firefighters began when a fire broke out at their apartment complex after moving to Florida from New York City in 2001 with their then 2-year-old boy. Firefighters bravely battled the flames and even managed to rescue a special toy for their autistic son.Two months later, the 9/11 terrorist attacks took the life of a firefighting friend. It was then Scambia said he “promised God” he would cook for all the fire stations in Florida.

He’s whipped up concoctions, and taught firefighters to cook at stations from Ocoee to Boca Raton. Now, he’s about halfway through Orange County stations and hopes to move through Seminole, Osceola, Polk and Volusia counties next.

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