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Forest Park Students Fire Up Love of Cooking on TV Show

Thursday, December 2, 2021


Project Fire group participants

Rebecca Dubis grew up on a steady diet of PBS cooking shows. She and her grandmother, Vassiliki, an immigrant from Greece, would watch the television together. Rebecca was charged with writing down the recipes. 

The two remain close, and now they’ll be able to watch a show Rebecca had a hand in making. She and two other St. Louis Community College-Forest Park students recently served on the crew of one of public television’s most popular brands. 

Dubis, Bill Hellige and Glenn Lapate all helped during the filming of “Steven Raichlen’s Project Fire” when it made a two-week pilgrimage to St. Louis to explore the city’s barbecue history. The show is an “insightful exploration of how we grill today and how we will grill and smoke tomorrow.”

Steven Raichlen and Rebecca Dubis“It was really awesome,” Dubis said. “It was definitely a long day. We’d get in around seven in the morning and, on a good day, we’d get home around nine at night.”  

While none of the three Forest Park students have on-screen roles, they each played an integral part of the filming. Their work ranged from washing dishes to assisting in cooking the food that was often used on the show. 

Filmed at Union Station in St. Louis, the production allowed the crew to capture enough footage for 13 episodes that will start airing in May. Raichlen told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he chose the city because he had exclusively chosen rural settings for his past shows and he wanted a different feel for the next season. 

“This was an awesome experience meeting Steven Raichlen in person,” Hellige said in an email. “I have one of his cookbooks as well, so this completed the experience for me. Working on the video and show production side of things really opened a different perspective in the food industry.” 

Prepared food ready for filmingChris Lynch, the field chef for the production, assisted Raichlen by cooking alongside the TV chef. He provided finished dishes used for still photography, to speed up the filming process and for several other reasons. He also made certain the production had enough of the right proteins and that they are properly stored. 

The executive chef of Cliff House Hotel in Manitou Springs, Colo., Lynch has worked with Raichlen for years both in an actual restaurant and for his various television shows. Whenever they film on location, they reach out to local culinary schools to find help with the production. 

Lynch said the STLCC students proved amazing, especially Dubis, with whom he worked most closely. 

“Rebecca was great. Absolutely fantastic,” he said. “It gave me hope in humanity.” 

Possibly her biggest contribution to the Oct. 27-Nov. 7 filming was a loaf of brioche she made during a culinary arts class. She brought it to the set, and the chefs were so impressed by her creation that Raichlen used it as a “mystery box” ingredient during one of his segments. In that segment, he made a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. He also gave Dubis credit for the bread while filming, though there’s no guarantee the mention will make the final edit. 

Regardless if her name is uttered on air, Dubis said the experience was well worth the long hours in sometimes freezing weather. 

“First and foremost, I learned a lot about grilling,” she said. “In my family, it’s the one part of cooking done by the men. So, I’ve never really had that experience. It was kind of cool to get an extensive course on grilling and smoking." 

But the coolest part is that she’ll be able to watch the show with her grandma. 

Participants in the filming of  "Steven Raichlen's Project Fire" in the top photo are, from left, William Hellige, Chef Steven Raichlen, Rebecca Dubis and Casey Shiller. 

Chef Steven Raichlen and Rebecca Dubis are pictured with her loaf of brioche.

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