San Benito Lifestyle

Father’s Day wisdom and recipes from local firefighters

Vince Grewohl and Holden Renz talk about fatherhood and the importance of cooking at the firehouse.
Camaraderie is a key feature found at local firehouses as seen with firefighter Taylor Siemann, Engineer Holden Renz and Captain Johnny Amescua. Photo courtesy of Holden Renz.
Camaraderie is a key feature found at local firehouses as seen with firefighter Taylor Siemann, Engineer Holden Renz and Captain Johnny Amescua. Photo courtesy of Holden Renz.

Though Father’s Day may feel different this year as people continue to practice social distancing, the meaning and importance of the holiday has not been lost. 

People may not gather in large settings or go out to restaurants like years prior, but creating a quality meal at home for the holiday while honoring one’s father is still possible. 

Working as a firefighter for the city of Hollister the past 19 years, Vince Grewohl spoke of what fatherhood means to him and shared how food helps create a tighter bond for firefighters when at work.

Fatherhood is pride, responsibility and leadership,” Grewohl said. “[It is] having pride in the child that you helped create, being responsible for the love and care they need to grow, teaching them right from wrong while leading by example, and instilling good morals and values.”

For Holden Renz, a firefighter currently working at Fire Station Four in San Juan Bautista, another key aspect of fatherhood is being the best partner possible to his wife Brittany in order to set a positive example for his children and to help strengthen his family.

“I was given a piece of advice I will never forget,” said Renz, who’s worked in the county for the last six years. “Just before I became a father, [I was told] to be sure and keep the foundation strong. The foundation being my wife and I. If we’re not strong, focus becomes lost and the ability to be a positive example to your kids is lost, thus losing their attention and respect.”

Like Grewohl, Renz spoke about a father’s responsibility to positively lead their children.

“Fatherhood to me is being a responsible and positive role model, setting a positive example for your kids no matter what life throws your way, as well as teaching them the reality of certain life situations,” Renz said. “Most importantly in the end, continually teaching them to appreciate what this life provides and to be fortunate for the family we have.” 

Though some fathers have had more time with their children while sheltering in place for the past few months of COVID-19 than prior to the outbreak, firefighters like Grewohl and Renz have continued to report to work as essential workers. This schedule of shift work—in which they may be away from home for days at a time—has created a communal, family atmosphere for the firefighters, where cooking and having meals together is key.

“Cooking and eating together as a crew at the firehouse fills the void of missing meals with your family at home,” Grewohl said. “It also builds camaraderie and gives us time to relax and enjoy each other’s company. We spend one-third of our lives together at the firehouse.”

Renz said cooking plays a key role in the cohesion of crews while at work. 

“Whether its running calls, training, or taking care of equipment and apparatus, our time in the kitchen allows for us to unwind and makes us more of a tight knit family, giving us the time to learn about each other’s family and one another on a deeper level, and of course some firehouse banter,” Renz said. 

Another fun aspect for firefighters at work is seeing what meals people are able to create in the kitchen.

“We like to get after it and make some good meals,” Grewohl said. “Some of the best meals I have had have been at the firehouse. Everything from a good barbecue steak, to calamari and homemade apricot pie! But more times than none we don’t get to finish eating and that’s okay, we enjoy our job and accept everything that comes with it.”

For Renz and the crew at Fire Station Four, giving people a chance to shine in the kitchen has introduced new meals to the crew.

“As an engine company we typically rotate days to cook so everyone has a chance to show off a good meal,” said Renz. “The majority of the time we barbecue, especially in the summer. Ribs, steaks, chicken, beans, corn, zucchini, squash, bell peppers, onions, and salad.”

Grewohl said the roots of being a firefighter is based on family and shared how the culture of a firehouse includes his own wife and children.

“Our spouses and children are always welcome at the firehouse, especially because we work all the holidays, miss out on our kids’ birthdays, school plays, sporting events, etc.,” Grewohl said. 

Renz confirmed this sentiment and said, “The beauty of the family that’s been created as a department, or as the service as a whole, allows for us to have our families welcomed with open arms by everyone at any time.”

What recipes are Grewohl and Renz cooking up in the kitchen for their crews and own families? Each firefighter shared a recipe to try this Father’s Day.


Grewohl’s Bacon Wrapped Fillet Mignon


  • 4 pieces of fillet mignon 
  • 1 pack of applewood smoked bacon
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 1 half stick of butter
  • 1 garlic clove chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of rosemary

Extra Cooking Needs:

  • Wax paper


  1. Start by wrapping the bacon around the fillet. 
  2. Season fillets on both sides with sea salt and fresh ground pepper, let fillets sit out until they reach room temperature.
  3. Mash up butter, freshly chopped garlic and rosemary together with a fork. 
  4. Roll the butter mixture into a log shape in wax paper and place it in the fridge. The butter mixture roll will be used later for the topping on the fillets after they are removed from the oven. 
  5. After the fillets have reached room temperature, heat the oven to 450 degrees. 
  6. Once the oven is preheated, put 1-2 tablespoons of salted butter in a cast iron pan and bring to a high heat. 
  7. Sear the fillets for three minutes on each side in the cast iron pan. 
  8. After searing, place the cast iron pan of fillets in the pre-heated oven and cook for five to six minutes depending on how you like your meat cooked. 
  9. Prior to removing the pan from the oven, slice up the garlic butter roll from the fridge. 
  10. After removing the pan from the oven, place a slice of the garlic butter roll on top of each fillet.
  11. Let the fillets sit for a couple minutes and then serve.

Renz’s go-to Individual Beef Wellington recipe


  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup dry sherry
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • 6 (8 ounce) fillets beef tenderloin
  • 1 (17.5 ounce) package frozen puff pastry, thawed


  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, combine the mushrooms, onion, sherry, butter or margarine, and parsley and sauté until all the liquid is absorbed and the mixture resembles a paste. Cover the top of each steak with the mixture.
  2. Partially thaw the puff pastry sheets and roll out pieces thin enough to cover the top, sides and bottom of each steak. Place the steaks on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until serving time.
  3. Heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  4. Bake steaks uncovered in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. (Note: They will be rare, but will continue cooking while the dish is sitting.)


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Becky Bonner

Becky Bonner is a local teacher at San Benito High School who is passionate about sharing things to do in San Benito County.