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Chef Uses FF Training In Flaming Dessert Fiasco

Chef Uses FF Training In Flaming Dessert Fiasco

Tampa Bay Tribune via YellowBrix

June 14, 2011

TAMPA – It’s a dessert. Bananas, ice cream, cinnamon and butter. You wouldn’t exactly imagine having to save someone from bananas Foster.

But for the finishing touch, it’s a flambé. Most recipes call for a quarter-cup of dark rum, brought to the table and ignited.

On Saturday night, a fun dessert went terribly wrong and five customers at a Palm Harbor restaurant were burned, two of them seriously. The situation could have been worse if they hadn’t been sitting near a restaurant employee who was moonlighting as a chef while waiting to get a job as a firefighter.

Nick Salzer, 20, a chef at Ozona Blue Grilling Co., said he was 5 feet from the table when he saw flames. The sheriff’s office said server Ian Monsalvo was making two orders of bananas Foster when flames began inching up to the bottle and pressure built inside, sending flaming 151-proof rum onto the group sitting around the table.

Salzer said six months of training at SouthEastern Public Safety Institute at St. Petersburg College immediately kicked in.

He ran to the table and tore off Katie Hudgins’ clothes so her burns could be treated by firefighters when they came. A deputy who responded to the scene said he arrived to find Hudgins, 25, lying on a couch in the restaurant with a blanket draped over her upper body.

Salzer said he didn’t make the bananas Foster that night.

He said he has been a chef and food expediter at Ozona for 31/2 years while working on getting hired as a firefighter. That’s not why he jumped in to help Saturday night, he said. He said he would have done it anyway.

“We saw a fire, and we took care of it,” he said. “It’s just a response. It’s what we’re trained to do.”

Of those injured by the fire, Hudgins, 25, had first- and second-degree burns on her body. Patricia Rogers, 56, had respiratory burns. Both were flown to Tampa General Hospital.

Three others at the table, James Rogers, 25, Raymond Rogers Jr., 60, and Jacquelyn Williams, 58, had minor injuries and refused treatment, the sheriff’s office said.