Red Hook Firefighters Battle in a Heated Chili Cook-Off

By Nikhita Venugopal on May 18, 2013 6:39am 

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 Engine 279 and Engine 202 in Brooklyn will compete in a chili cook-off at Carroll Gardens Greenmarket, May 19.
Brooklyn Firefighters Battle in Heated Chili Cook-Off
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CARROLL GARDENS — It’s about to get hotter than a five-alarm fire.

Two Red Hook firefighters will battle the heat in a chili cook-off at the Carroll Gardens Greenmarket on May 19.

“Chili is a symphony of sweet, spicy and savory,” said Firefighter Bill Toth, who works out of Engine 202/Ladder 101 at 31 Richards St.

And if you don’t see it that way, “you’ve missed the boat.”

Toth, a "Red Hook Raider," will be facing firefighter Eric Ciar who will be representing Engine 279/Ladder 131, the "Happy Hookers," in the weekend chili cook-off.  

The competing firemen will be using fresh ingredients from the Carroll Street greenmarket and shoppers can taste the chili bowls before voting on their favorite.

Ciar has been perfecting his chili recipe for almost a decade, experimenting with different kinds of beans, meats, herbs and peppers.

Sometimes sweet and often spicy, “I like to change it up and see what works,” he said.

Toth brings heat to his chili with a combination of jalapeños, Serrano peppers, chipotle and cayenne powder. But his secret weapon is adobo sauce, adding a little mystery and smokiness to his recipe.

It’s “delightfully hot,” the firefighter-chef said, who uses skirt steak marinated in tequila and wine.

After five years of making chili, and inspiration from chefs like Bobby Flay and Guy Fieri, he’s realized that delicious chili “isn’t just heat.”

“Chili has got a big personality,” he said.

The Firefighter Chili Cook-Off will be held May 19, in collaboration with Friends of Firefighters, at the Carroll Gardens Greenmarket on Carroll Street between Court and Smith Streets. Tasting and judging will begin at 12:00 p.m.

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