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Bringing the Heat

Chandler Fire Department Captain Tom Fooshee Took Up Baking as a Fun Hobby. But it Soon Became So Much More

For more than 20 years, firefighting has been a huge part of Tom Fooshee’s world. 

But for the last couple of years, the high-octane, lifesaving career has shared the spotlight with a slightly less machismo-laden passion of the Chandler Fire Department captain.

Everyone has heard the firehouse cooking stories. However, the veteran first responder has taken kitchen duties to a new level as a professional baker specializing in cookies, cakes, and pretty much everything sweet.

Instagram images of intricately decorated confections captured business and the attention of casting agents, resulting in Fooshee’s appearance on the Magnolia Network’s Silos Baking Competition in May. 

“I think people enjoy seeing a dad, seeing a big guy with tattoos who’s a firefighter that’s man enough to go out and learn something like baking. A lot of what I do is not masculine. It’s very dainty, very flowery,” Fooshee says while chuckling. “I think people like that juxtaposition.” 

Fooshee won his episode with his Triple Play Cupcake, which featured vanilla and lemon sponge cake filled with blueberry compote and topped with a blueberry Swiss meringue buttercream. Judges expressed surprise at Fooshee’s high talent and skill level for someone who, at the time of the competition, had been baking for only 13 months. 

This earned him a spot in the finale against the season’s four other episode winners. For this, Fooshee crafted a calamansi muffin filled with cream cheese, topped with streusel, and drizzled with a calamansi-infused glaze. The inspiration was the citrus that’s native to the Philippines, where Fooshee’s mother and wife hail from.

Fooshee finished second. However, his calamansi confection wowed judges, including celebrity chef judge Andrew Zimmern, who personally loves the fruit. 

Fooshee was always athletic, playing football in high school and rugby at Arizona State University, where he earned his degree in exercise science and wellness. As far as he can remember, he always wanted to be a firefighter. 

“Being a servant and making a positive impact on people’s lives, those are things that don't seem like work,” Fooshee says. “I always felt good helping other people.” 

When his daughters entered their teen years and started having their own lives, Fooshee found himself with more time on his hands than he was used to. 

Fooshee loves desserts, his “Achilles heel,” as he says. But there aren’t many bake shops near his home in Queen Creek. He wondered why a long drive was required to procure a good slice of pie or cake. 

Then, Fooshee realized a way to answer his sweets calling while also finding a way to spend his free time. 

He found a cooking class that accommodated his work schedule and started with one that focused on macarons—his wife’s favorite cookie. He loved the experience and was pretty good at it. This led to more classes, and lots of at-home baking and posting of his creations on his Instagram, @beefcakebakeraz.

Fooshee baked for family and friends, but his photos captured the attention of prospective customers who wanted to order personalized cookies for special occasions. 

Fooshee was hesitant. The idea of someone paying for his baked goods added an element of pressure. However, he gave it a try. Soon, he was making custom-designed iced sugar cookies for the holidays and graduation season. He was booked to the point that he had to stop taking orders for a while. 

Today, Fooshee finds himself doing something completely different from what has filled his last two decades—and not only succeeding in it but loving it. 

“You’re in a rut, and then something like this happens, and you realize what you are capable of,” Fooshee says. “People can order their cookies and cakes from wherever they want, so I feel really touched when people want to order from me … food always brings people together.”