EDISON, NJ – Food and wine festivals have a unique place in the culinary world. It is one of the few places that bring together so many people that love and care about food, uniting a community of cooks, critics, artisans and foodies. Moreover, no place celebrates and showcases the spectrum of culinary flavors quite like a food competition.
Firefighting cooks from 20 fire departments throughout New Jersey came together at Pines Manor in Edison to compete in the annual Cooked and Uncorked Food Festival on Feb. 29. The event, 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, as well as almost 1,000 food lovers who came out to support their favorite chefs and to support the work of the two charitable organizations.
Kenilworth organic foods, shop at home business, Organic Lifestyle Foods for Greater Living, has been participating in this event for several years.
The local business began in 1999 and serves up customized organic food delivering service to customer's doorsteps daily. Customers can taste test their products first, ranging from meats, seafood, fruits and desserts.
Rose Letizia, marketing manager for the business, enjoys participating at the Cooked and Uncorked event and had this to say, "We enjoy the event to meet the community, give back and support such a great cause at Saint Barnabas. They are doing such great things for others we like to be a small part of it too."
When it came time for the firefighter cooking challenge, in the Firehouse Category, Paterson took top honors, Rahway in second and both Hillside and Long Branch tied for third place.
The People’s Choice award went to two-time winner (2014 and 2015) Bayonne who prepared a hangar steak with Gorgonzola mashed potatoes and stuffed mushrooms. Maplewood and Union came in second and third respectively.
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.
Each team represented their departments and towns well. They served restaurant quality dishes and beautifully plated food. Some of the teams even paired their servings with wine and margaritas, which all the judges seemed to enjoy. It was clear there was a lot of thought that went into the prep and execution of each entry.
Editor's Note: The original story was written by Jonathan Sym of TAP into Millburn then edited by TAP into Kenilworth with local references.