Chopped champion provides first responders food, camaraderie

May 26, 2021

Throughout the year, they protect and serve. But on May 26, Dartmouth’s first responders were the ones being served.

Tacos were delivered fresh off the grill to members of the town’s police, fire and EMS departments during Feed the First Responders. The event brought the Plymouth-based Lobsta Love Truck to the station to whip up chicken and chorizo tacos and pork belly tacos as a way of thanking those who serve.

“These men and women do a phenomenal job in our community,’’ said Brad Simmons, president of Simmons Insurance Group, who hosted the event with the help of local sponsors. 

The chef whipping up his specialties has serious food industry credentials. 

Stephen Coe, who operates the food truck, appeared on “Chopped: Beat Bobby Flay’’ and lived up to the title, creating a winning lobster ravioli dish that outscored Flay’s offering. 

On this day in Dartmouth, the vibe was much more relaxed as he dished out tacos and smiles. “I like helping people,’’ he said as served his creations to a hungry and grateful crew.

Simmons brought the Feed the First Responders event to Dartmouth for the first time last year

He said he wanted the first responders to feel appreciated. “We’re trying to boost morale and show community support,’’ he said. “It’s nice to give back to the community.’’

“It’s been a difficult year,’’ Police Chief Brian Levesque said. “To see this kind of support is very encouraging to all first responders — we certainly appreciate them coming out here.’’

As a retired employee of the sheriff’s office and the son of a late retired New Bedford police officer, Simmons said he feels a special kinship with first responders and understands from experience that “it’s always nice to be appreciated.’’

“This is awesome,’’ said police officer Cristina Brum. “It’s nice to see that people care and that they’re willing to donate their time to come out here and support us. It means a lot.’’

Sgt. Joe Rapoza said he appreciated the generosity — and especially the food.

“It’s delicious and phenomenal and it’s appreciated for sure,” he added.

Along with the tacos, those attending also enjoyed the camaraderie. 

“The food truck “brings all first responders together,’’ firefighter Ken Gidley said. “I think it’s excellent. It’s a very positive experience.’’