Tupelo firefighters prepare for annual soup cookoff

BY GINNA PARSONS

Daily Journal

If you can stand the heat, get in the kitchen. That's the motto of some of the Tupelo Fire Department's firefighters, who once again will compete in the annual Souper Bowl Saturday Fireman's Cookoff at The Mall at Barnes Crossing on Jan. 25 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The winner of the judge's choice award will receive a trophy and go on to serve the winning soup at the Salvation Army's Empty Bowl Luncheon on March 5. Proceeds from the Empty Bowl fund the army's lunch line, food pantry, Meals on Wheels and the lodge.

“Tupelo firefighters are noted for being good cooks,” said Julia Blakey, president of the Salvation Army Women's Auxiliary and an Empty Bowl organizer. “You always see them in the grocery store buying produce and food to prepare.”

Capt. Tommy Sudduth of Fire Station No. 1's C Shift said he and his co-workers will enter “Last-Minute Soup,” but he's not telling (or not sure) what it will be.

“It will be a last-minute idea,” he said. “We don't want to do what everyone else is doing. We know it will start with peppers and onions, because we start all our meals down here with peppers and onions.”

Sudduth said his shift has participated in the cookoff every year, but has never won. But the firefighters do get a lot of practice in the kitchen.

“We try to cook two meals per shift, per day. That's always breakfast and either dinner or supper. We cook a lot of soups, chilis, stews, spaghetti and chicken and dumplings in the winter months. Some of us like to cook, some don't,” he said. “But everyone participates.”

Cookoff awards will be handed out for the judge's choice, the people's choice and best spirit. Mall shoppers will be able to taste the soups and vote for the people's choice award. Matt Wyatt will emcee the event; entertainment and a guest speaker will round out the festivities.

Blakey said she's hoping for at least seven soups to be entered from various Tupelo Fire Departments. Mossy Oak sponors the event.