Fire Up the Ovens – the Fireman Love to Cook!

— Written By N.C. Cooperative Extension

As I write this article it is Fire Prevention Week at our local Firehouses so I thought it would be the right time of year to check out our local stations and find the best cook.  In discussion with people very knowledgeable about the local fireman the one name that kept coming up was Anthony Stamper at Lenoir Station Number 2 in Whitnel.  It was reported that he makes the best meatloaf in the world.  I was hooked because in my circles I am known for making the best meatloaf.  Now this is getting interesting!  Station number 2 has three shifts of fireman and each shift has a designated cook. Anthony is primarily on the day shift. Each shift has its own refrigerator to keep the orders separate, and they budget $50.00 dollars per meal which is very generous when compared to the USDA My Plate Portions. But firefighters use a lot of energy on busy call days and I saw no one with weight issues on my visit.


Anthony learned to cook from his mother who cooked for our Caldwell County School System for many years. They say that apples do not fall far from the tree.  This meatloaf recipe came from his mother.

Anthony is married to Amanda and they have a beautiful daughter who no doubt will get the recipe handed down to her as well. Apparently Amanda cooks meatloaf the way I do with lots of green, red and yellow vegetables added to it to make it a complete meal with one dish and a side of mashed potatoes.

The story goes in the Stamper household that meatloaf is really about meat not vegetables.  So I started taking a small unscientific survey of my friends and relations to see if this meatloaf debate is typical and I am here to tell you that it is a 50/50 draw of those who like meatloaf as pure meat and those who like the added vegetables.  I even tried the meatloaf at Jestine’s Kitchen in Charleston this past week and their meatloaf was predominately meat with a miniscule trace of a carrot in it. 

Anthony makes his meatloaf for 8 men per shift and so his portions are plentiful for the evening meal and some for sandwiches the next day.   I was not able to stay for the meatloaf to finish cooking but I still think adding vegetables should be tried out once or twice.  Eat more veggies!

To use this recipe for the home cook just cut the recipe in half.

ANTHONY’S  Meatloaf

5 lbs. of ground beef

½ medium onion

1 package saltine crackers

1 egg

½ of a 24 oz. bottle of ketchup

Splashes of Worcestershire sauce


Blend meat thoroughly, form into loaf pan, cover with foil. Bake in 350° oven for 1.0-1.5 hours and drain grease off every 15 minutes.  Check with a thermometer that the meatloaf is 155° for 15 seconds. Enjoy.