Retired FDNY firefighter, 'Chopped' chef dies of 9/11-related cancer
Eighteen-year FDNY veteran Keith Young made a culinary name for himself, winning several TV cooking challenges and writing his own cook book
By John Annese
New York Daily News
NEW YORK — A retired FDNY firefighter whose culinary skills brought him TV accolades as the beloved “Firehouse Chef” has died — the latest victim of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
In his 18-year career with the city Fire Department, Keith Young made a name for himself in the kitchen, winning several TV cooking challenges, tangling with celebrity chef Bobby Flay, and writing his own recipe book.
On Saturday, he lost his battle with a World Trade Center-related illness, an FDNY spokesman confirmed.
Young, 53, joined the FDNY in November 1998 and retired in September 2016. He worked on rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
While stationed at Ladder 156 in Midwood, Brooklyn, he turned the firehouse kitchen into a neatly organized culinary workshop — lining up racks of spices and seasoning, with rows of knives underneath.
“You can make a great dish or a horrible dish, the guys bust your chops either way,” Young said in a 2004 interview with the Daily News.
A student of culinary arts at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island, he parlayed his kitchen skills into a book, “Cooking With the Firehouse Chef,” in 2003.
Four years later, Young triumphed in a chicken cacciatore cookoff on an episode of “Throwdown With Bobby Flay” on the Food Network.
He also took home two championship titles on another Food Network show, “Chopped.”
In 2012, Young, a father of three children, lost his wife to breast cancer.
Young’s 24-year-old daughter, Kaley, opened up this month on Facebook and Instagram about her dad’s illness.
“It’s definitely not easy seeing your dad fight cancer, but the amount of strength he has is so admirable,” she wrote March 3.
“This is a time in my life that makes me appreciate every moment that I have with the people that I love even more.”
Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro told The News, “World Trade Center-related illnesses continue to inflict devastating loss on the FDNY family. We will never forget Firefighter Keith Young’s bravery and his selfless sacrifice.”
Copyright 2018 New York Daily News
This week of losing just keeps getting worse. FF Keith Young, TL-158/L-156, lost his battle with 9/11 cancer. 1998 he joined the #FDNY. In 2012, he lost his wife to cancer, leaving him to care for the family. Keith was a great guy, he raised an awesome family. RIP Firehouse Chef pic.twitter.com/owXrMKFzrJ— NYCFireWire (@NYCFireWire) March 18, 2018
I was blessed to spend a day with this man a few years ago and he impacted my life in that short period of time.— Herb Hand (@CoachHand) March 20, 2018
He was a hero in more ways than one. A devoted husband, loving father, dedicated civil servant and larger than life personality.
RIP Keith Young pic.twitter.com/12pucHRwmQ