EDISON, NJ – Firefighting cooks from 20 fire departments throughout New Jersey gathered at Pines Manor in Edison to compete in the annual Cooked and Uncorked Food Festival on Feb. 29. The event, now in its sixth year, raises money for the New Jersey State Firefighter’s Mutual Benevolent Association and the Saint Barnabas Burn Foundation.
The festival included more than 30 restaurants, 40 wine and spirit distributors, and over a 1,000 food lovers who came out to support their favorite chefs.
Clark’s Molly Maguire’s Irish Pub and Restaurant was there, serving up shepherd’s pie and Irish soda bread.
“The experience is great and it is for a great cause. Quite frankly, I had a good time!” said John McPartlan, Molly Maguire’s owner.
Participating restaurants ringed the room, but the real action took place right in the center. That’s where the firefighters cooking competition heated up and the judging took place.
Firefighters competed in two divisions: Firehouse and Gourmet.
The first place trophy in the Gourmet Division went to the Roselle Fire Department Local 55 for their Shrimp Ceviche Soft Shell Taco with Napa cabbage slaw, chipotle dressing and a cilantro aioli. The Firehouse Category top honors went to the Paterson Fire Department.
McPartlan, a former festival judge, sampled the winning fish tacos and a beef short-rib dish.
“The food was just unbelievable this year,” he said.
The festival is expected to raise upwards of $100,000. Co-chairs Robert Hill, a retired Fire Chief from Roselle and Millburn’s Fire Chief Michael Roberts explained that the event originally started independent of Barnabas Health, raising money through the collection of aluminum cans, which raised over $1 million over the last 10 years.
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