BAYONNE, NJ - A team of Bayonne firefighters took both the judge’s trophy and people’s choice awards at Mayor Davis’ third annual chili cook-off on Friday.

A record crowd of more than 300 guests turned out to St. Andrew’s for the event that was co-hosted by the City of Bayonne, the Bayonne UEZ/SID, and the Bayonne Chamber of Commerce. A portion of the proceeds will go to support the Bayonne Fire Canteen while the 50/50 raised much needed funds for the St. Andrew’s soup kitchen.

“Everyone is having a great time,” Jack Kennedy of the Bayonne Chamber said as the music of Just Jamming played from the stage behind him. “This really is a community event.”

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A steady stream of chili lovers moved from table to table, 20 in all, sampling the entries that offered an incredible array of the classic comfort food usually made with ground beef, beans, and chili seasonings. 

The winning table declared their version as one for meat lovers, and for those certainly didn’t disappoint as each spoonful brought a mixture of ground beef, veal, and pork, together homemade chorizo, chuck steak, and bacon, with a sauce made fresh tomatoes, greek yogurt, and roasted garlic.

Winning was no easy chore as the competitors, including several restaurants, as well as BCB Bank, Hudson DNA and Drug Testing, and the Masonic Lodge each brought their own special touches to their entries. Total preparation time, the BFD’s team captain Micheal Monczewski said, was eight hours.

Standing in as one of the judges was Ray Cooney, a retired member of the FDNY and host of television’s “Firehouse Kitchen.” The winning team, Cooney told TAPinto Bayonne, was one of three he gave perfect a winning score to. Asked jokingly if he was biased in any way to his fellow first responders, Cooney just smiled and offered that it’s no surprise firefighters have perfected their chili making skills as serving in that profession is like being part of a family.

“We cook together, and we eat together,” he said before sharing his hope to be back in Bayonne soon to film his show with the team that also included Bayonne Firefighters Andrew Bajo, Nick Mattiello, and Dave Inirio. 

Coming in second and third in the judge’s category were BCB Bank and Kuhl’s Tavern, while it was the Bayonne Masons and BCB Bank that took second and third places among the people’s choice selections.

Though not a fan of chili Mayor Jimmy Davis was in attendance to celebrate the event as a community gathering saying that it was the “first of many great events we’ll be having throughout the year.”

“This shows that we are a great community,” Claudia Cortellessa Kufta from Bayonne Chamber said. “Bayonne sticks together, and we are more successful for it.”

Not to be left out of the winner’s circle entirely was Hudson DNA and Drug Testing, 150 Pulaski Street, who took home the prize for best dressed table, a feature of the event, Gail Godesky said, added to the “fun and enjoyable” nature of night.

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