EDISON, NJ- Edison’s Pines Manor was transformed into a firehouse kitchen as teams from 24 professional fire departments across New Jersey showed off their cooking skills at the NJ FMBA’s eighth annual Cooked and Uncorked Food and Wine Festival.

The event, which raised over $50,000 that will be split between the Saint Barnabas Burn Center and the NJ FMBA Foundation, was attended by more than 1,000 guests that were treated to an array of foods, drinks and other goodies.

According to Eddie Donnelly, the president of the 5,000 member union that represents firefighters, EMTs and dispatchers, the annual event “is a special way for our members to connect with each other, show off their talents, and raise money for some very important causes.”

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“The Saint Barnabas Burn Center and the other organizations this event supports share the commitment our members have to serving New Jersey residents, often at their most difficult times, and we are proud to partner with them all,” Donnelly continued.

While several well-known New Jersey restaurants and drinks distributors also showed off their specialties it was dishes prepared by firefighters in three categories: firehouse, gourmet, and dessert, that were in highest demand. Judges, including NJ 101.5 radio personality Bill Spadea and former New York Giants Bart Oates and David Diehl, took turns sampling the dishes before assigning them scores that would ultimately determine the winner in each of the three categories.

Calling his teammates, and the men and women he serves with on the Paterson Fire Department, “brothers and sisters,” Sean Duffy told TAPinto Paterson that “when there’s downtime in a firehouse it’s often spent around the kitchen.” Those who serve in the fire service rely on each other, Duffy said, making the time they share a meal together important “family time.”

Scott Loyek, Matt Loughlin, Don Leyhan and Jesus Castano, all from FMBA Local 43 of the Morristown Fire Bureau placed 3rd in the gourmet food division. The group prepared lobster bisque, paired with a slice of filet mignon on a toasted croquette, topped with caramelized onions and a gorgonzola sauce. But, it was the South Orange Local 24 who were the “gourmet category” winners with a duck confit stuffed ravioli with bacon and English pea puree.

For those in attendance that weren’t counting calories a third category was added to this year’s festivities with Rahway FMBA Local 33 delivering a no bake chocolate cheesecake accompanied by a chocolate martini, enough to win recognition as the best dessert of the night.

The final, and perhaps most coveted, award of the night, the “People’s Choice” award, voted on by attendees, went to Union FMBA Local 46 and their Australian lamb chops topped with mint apple chutney and served alongside a spinach and mixed green salad.

As the event drew to a close and guests filed out the doors a question came from retired Nutley firefighter John Hundin reference to the delicacies he had just sampled, “how do they top these dishes next year?”

 

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