HITCHCOCK — It’s not unusual for some members of Just for Fun Firehouse Cookers to have to leave in the middle of prepping their food.

The team, mostly made up of firefighters, aren’t relieved of their duties the weekend of the Seafood Cook-Off at the Galveston County Fair and Rodeo.

“Just about every year we have something where we leave,” said Jim Cargile, Santa Fe Fire and Rescue’s assistant chief.

Last year, the firemen received a call early Saturday morning to go to the west end of town for a garage fire. Four years before that, the team helped out at a motorcycle accident at the gate of the rodeo.

“We all know it’s bound to happen,” Cargile said.

So, team members make sure they have enough people to take care of the food if there is an emergency.

“Just about everybody on the team is or was a firefighter at the time,” said Tony Dauphine of the Houston Fire Department.

The Firehouse Cookers have been participating in the Seafood Cook-Off since it started nine years ago and have been coming to the BBQ Cook-Off for more than 30 years.

The event is a way for friends and family to get together and catch up.

Dauphine met Bryan Shumaker through a mutual friend at the cook-off four years ago. Friday afternoon, the two are rolling shrimp in sausage and bacon in a makeshift prep station under a white tent.

To Shumaker, Friday’s grilled shrimp contest is the hardest. The team paid for four entries and chose a mix of recipes, old and new.

“Statistically, you do better (in the competition) if you do the same recipe every year and just tweak it,” Dauphine said. “If you keep hunting down new recipes, you’ll never find what the judges like.”

The team began discussing recipes for Friday two months ago and decided to take a simpler approach.

“We’re trying to cook food that people eat everyday at home,” he said.

For Anthony Cargile, retired district chief of Santa Fe Fire and Rescue, he thinks this is the year for the Just for Fun Firehouse Cookers.

“We’re going to win,” he said. “Oh yeah, honey, it’s time.”

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