Iron Horse Chef


Engineer Jeff “Grumps” Badger might be a vegetarian, but that doesn’t stop him from enjoying some good eatin’.  You see, when God gave us the steam engine, he intended for no hoghead to ever go hungry on a hard day’s work. The steam locomotive backhead — the great granddaddy of the dashboard — might well be the most unexpected kitchen known to man.  From injectors to hydrostatic lubricators, firedoor dampers to deck hoses and trycocks to warming trays, there’s enough cooking capabilities on these rolling teapots to concoct every carbon-coated creation imaginable.   And you thought we’d just let all that lost thermal efficiency escape into the atmosphere!

Is he off his old man rocker?  Probably.  But while seldom heard about anymore, backhead cuisine is actually been a staple of steam railroading culture.  For as long as these steel steeds have plied the rails, it’s been part of the life. These guys were underpaid, overworked, and put in the face of danger on a daily basis. The last thing they needed to do was go hungry, and without a cafeteria down the hall from their cubicle, they had to be a little creative.  On hand-bombers, they cooked on coal scoops.  Famished oil firemen fried on that nice ledge which comes with having a damper-type firedoor, and might compete in their cook-offs with the conductor and his clean cooktop atop the caboose stove.  Some enginemen’s manuals and catechisms of the day even had recipe sections just for food to be fried up on the back of ‘ol number nine.  It was praxis for the profession, and so true to its essence.

Today, these traditions are still alive and well.  From the West Coast to Walt Disney World, many of today’s stewards of steam are still doing it.  Of course, it’s only natural that Grumps would utilize these gourmet kitchens on wheels to their full piquant potential, and in December, 2007, the Pacific Coast Railroad’s very own Iron Horse Chef took his act to the silver screen.  Join Grumps, his carnivorous copilot – fireman Oil Can, and the rest of the P.C.R.R. gang as they sautee, smoke, and steam savory morsels in the cab of ‘ol No. 3 in true railroading tradition, and see why it’s better off the backhead!

all aboard and bon appetit!

Iron Horse Chef®  is Copyright ©2009 Deathburger Films/EamonnArts Productions

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