Brooklyn Heights smoke eaters take home the prize

Firefighters face off in Red Hook BBQ competition

The Brooklyn Paper
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Photo gallery

Team supporter: Retired firefighter Tony Catapano of Red Hook’s Engine 202 came to support his team at the third annual Fairway Firefighters Food Face-Off at Fairway Market on July 31.
Winning eats: Firefighter Robert Scally of winning team Engine 224 in Brooklyn Heights prepped a victorious burger for the panel of judges.
Team players: From left, Firefighters Eric Ciar, Colin Sterr, Tommy Kartelias, and Tommy McDonagh representing the “Happy Hookers” of Ladder 131 enjoyed their barbecue grub even though they didn’t win the grill-off competition.
Head judge: Borough President Markowitz was on the panel of judges that declared the team representing Brooklyn Heights’ Engine 224 the barbecue champ.
Bombshell: Ali “Kat” Reeder of the American Bombshells band, which performed at the grill-off, enjoyed the grub cooked up by Brooklyn’s Bravest.

The competition was definitely heated.

Borough firefighters threw down and put their grill skills to the test at a cook-off on Red Hook’s waterfront Wednesday.

Smoke eaters from four borough firehouses in Red Hook and Brooklyn Heights squared off behind Fairway Market for the title of top tong handler at the market’s third annual barbecue challenge.

The teams of Brooklyn’s Bravest grilled up their best burgers, beef and pork ribs, and chicken for the competition. Brooklyn Heights’ Engine 224 snagged top prize.

“It was a team effort,” said 13-year firefighter John Cialino, who prepped the meats for the winning team. “We work very well together from working at the firehouse.”

A panel of judges, including Borough President Markowitz, tasted all the grub, which was donated by the mega-grocery store.

“This time, it was the firefighters themselves who were on fire, cooking and dishing out some of the juiciest burgers, zestiest chicken, and tastiest ribs ever for the judges and the hundreds of shoppers who stopped by for the food face-off,” said Fairway’s head of marketing Jacqueline Donovan.

The judges based their decision on taste, originality, and the use of preserved lemons – the secret ingredient that had to be incorporated into the burgers and was announced just as the grilling got underway.

The victorious Brooklyn Heights meat masters came away with a gigantic trophy and a $500 Fairway gift card to stock their Hicks Street firehouse with prime cuts. A quarter of the supermarket’s proceeds for the day will go to a charity of the team’s choice. The winners decided to split the donation between Friends of Firefighters and the New York Firefighters Burn Center Foundation.

Attendees got to sample the firefighters’ creations and listen to patriotic jams by the American Bombshells.

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at
Updated 10:13 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

John Wasserman from Windsor Terrace says:
I really hope that the Brooklyn Paper will pay for the gas for Carmine's scooter so that he will be able to report this in his next news story. Pardon the interruption.
Aug. 2, 2013, 9:35 am
diehipster from Beheading Brents, Brodys & Brices says:
Its nice to see real men doing something like this in a neighborhood being flooding with Where's Waldo and Estrogenized Brawny Men types. There's still hope. See, your typical beta male pseudo creative type hipster will snub his nose towards an event like this yet will have no problem being carried out over the shoulder of a burning building by one of these guys after starting a fire with a "shaweeeeet" vintage hash pipe made from the penis of a Peruvian donkey.
Aug. 2, 2013, 1:47 pm

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