A firehouse might not be the first place you think of when it comes to delicious cooking, but firefighter Patrick Mathieu proves that tasty surprises can lurk in the most unexpected places in Firehouse Chef: Favourite Recipes from Canada's Firefighters (Whitecap Books Ltd).
Since firefighters' diet and energy are paramount to their performance, eating is no casual affair in the firehouse. But Patrick has made it as much a joy as a work requirement for his fellow firefighters. Now you can eat like a firefighter, with Patrick's original recipes as well as recipes contributed by firehouse chefs from Newfoundland to British Columbia. With traditional Canadian dishes like Yukon Elk Chili as well as exotic and modern flare (try the Cauliflower Steaks with Salsa Verde or the Thai Drunken Noodles!), there is something for everyone.
We're pleased to welcome Patrick to Open Book today to take our version of the famous Proust Questionnaire, where we get to know authors on a personal level. He gives us an answer that is serious relationship goals, explains how firefighting has been a family business, and shares a country music motto that will tug on your heartstrings.
What is your dream of happiness?
I adore my wife! She is my best friend and absolute favourite person in the world to be around. We share so much happiness and pure joy in really everything we do. When I reflected on what my dream of happiness would be, I pictured my wife, our kids and I being on a warm white sandy beach with toes in the sand and turquoise water, or in the rainforest enjoying the company of elephants, most definitely enjoying some extraordinary cuisine in the French country side, but really, what it all came down to is as long as I have my wife Andrea Lauren and kids by my side then that was my dream of happiness. I couldn’t imagine experiencing life without them. Happiness is experiencing and enjoying life with someone you adore with family by your side. I could be in a swamp pit with her and still be perfectly happy.
What is your favourite occupation?
This was an easy one! Without a doubt my favourite occupation is a firefighter. In the first few pages of my book there is a photo of myself around the age of four or five standing on the back of my Grandpapa’s fire truck. He was a firefighter in Quebec City, as well as several of my Great Uncles. From as long as I can remember it is all I ever wanted to be! From those early childhood years until now I have never wavered from that or pursued or even thought strongly about any other profession (except perhaps becoming a NHL star!). Even today after serving seventeen years with Waterloo Fire Department I could never imagine doing anything else! I love being a firefighter! I feel very lucky to be fulfilling my dream and to wake up in the morning and be happy and proud in the work I am doing. There is something in the camaraderie, the helping others in time of need and being a backbone of the community that makes being a firefighter special and I couldn’t imagine myself being anything else.
What is your favourite colour?
My favourite colour is blue. Perhaps it is because of the uniform I proudly wear but I really believe I love the colour blue because it is the colour of water. I am a water baby at heart and an Aquarius by sign. I love being in water splashing around no matter how cold it may be. I love looking at water and even just being in the mere presence of a body of water, big or small just puts my heart at ease.
Who is your favourite musician?
Music is huge in our family. If I had to pick one musician to be named favourite it might have to be Elton John! Many of his songs hold a very close, special place in mine and my wife's heart! Crocodile Rock was one of the first songs we just danced and sang and laughed with each other to. In our home we always have music playing in the background! It sets such a happy and positive vibe, our kids love and embrace it and it is a guarantee that one or all of us will be toe tapping, singing and dancing away at some point. There is a reason why our seven year old daughter and five year old son know the words to the likes of Elton John and Rod Stewart and Tim McGraw! For a long time, I have been a classic rock kind of guy and when I am cooking away in the kitchen I want to be bopping to Elton John, Billy Joel, the Eagles, and Springsteen! Although I must say my wife in recent years has turned me on to country music and now Blake Shelton, Little Big Town, and Darius Rucker are sharing the air time with my classic rock friends.
What is your current state of mind?
At this stage in my life I feel so incredibly happy, content, at peace, and extremely fortunate. I am very happily married. We have two very bright, loveable, and healthy kids. We are surrounded by great, supportive family and friends. We travel, and enjoy experiencing life together. I am lucky enough to be working my dream job as a firefighter and also working with my passion in cooking. Life is in a really great balance right now and my state of mind is very much a reflection of my life. I feel very blessed for that.
What is your motto?
I think I have to borrow this one from a really amazing and thoughtful Tim McGraw song, “always stay humble and kind.” This is truly something we believe as a family, that we teach our children, and for me could really be the answer to so many more questions in this interview, such as; what is your virtue? What is your chief characteristic? What do you value most about your friends? What quality do you admire most in a woman? This is a motto I do try to live by every day. I have gone down a long and sometimes bumpy road to get where I am today, to have the successes and happiness I have in my life now. As life brings successes and failures, highs and lows, keeping true to one self and staying “humble and kind” will keep your family and friends and those most important to you close and keep life in balance.
Firefighter Patrick Mathieu is a very passionate foodie and self-taught chef who followed in his French-Canadian family's traditions of firefighting and cooking from the heart. He has cultivated his love for cooking in the firehouse and, alongside his wife Andrea Lauren, is the proud owner of StationHouse Catering and Private Chef Services. Patrick is also a culinary instructor, a food and recipe columnist for Firefighting in Canada Magazine, and appeared on Season 2 of the Food Network's Chopped Canada. He lives just outside Waterloo, Ontario with his wife and two children.