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Chili firemen

Brooklyn Daily
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Brooklyn firefighters are getting ready to bring on the heat.

Culinary-inclined smoke-eaters from two Red Hook firehouses will square off against each other at a chili cook-off this weekend at the Carroll Gardens Greenmarket.

Firefighters representing the “Happy Hookers” of Engine 279 and Ladder 131 on Lorraine Street and the “Red Hook Raiders” of Engine 202 and Ladder 101 on Richards Street will whip up their best pots of chili using ingredients from the neighborhood farmers market at the fiery competition.

“We’re going to win this thing,” said William Toth, a five-year firefighter of Ladder 101, who is going to cook the hearty beef stew for his firehouse. “It’s definitely a five-alarm chili. It’s going to be hot.”

Toth, a Manhattan resident, said that he plans to add in a lot of cayenne pepper to the mix, chili powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and even unsweetened chocolate.

But Eric Ciar, an eight-year firefighter of Ladder 131 who will represent his firehouse and concoct his best pot of chili in the cook-off, isn’t worried by his competition.

“I want to use every ingredient they give me and try not to waste anything,” said Ciar, a Fort Greene resident.

“I’m pretty confident.”

Greenmarket officials who invited the local firehouses to compete at the Carroll Gardens Greenmarket that runs every Sunday provided each firefighter with a basket of ingredients including vine tomatoes, onions, green garlic, parsley, cilantro, ground angus beef, and black beans. The cooks will add the extra kicks.

Market-goers sampling the chili will vote for their favorite dish.

The chili competition is not only for bragging rights, but also to raise awareness about Friends of Firefighters, a firefighter support group based out of an old Red Hook firehouse on Van Brunt Street that helped to coordinate the foodie event.

“Friends of Firefighters is proud to be able to facilitate events between the community and our firefighters. The cook-off is a fun way to bring the two together,” said Nancy Carbone, who founded the organization for firefighters dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder after 9-11.

The organization, which provides services for active and retired firefighters and their families, has been heavily involved with Hurricane Sandy relief work even though its headquarters was completely wiped out by the superstorm with flooding of up to four feet.

“We are very fortunate that hundreds of firefighters from throughout the [United States] came to help us rebuild along with Operation Sandy, friends, family, and local volunteers,” said Carbone.

Firefighter chili cook-off at the Carroll Gardens Greenmarket [Carroll Street between Smith and Court streets in Carroll Gardens,]. May 19, tasting begins at noon.

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at

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