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East Meadow Fire Department Wins ‘BBQ Grilling Throwdown’

Rockville Centre, Bethpage come in second and third place respectively

Firefighters were battling the flames on Friday, June 29, but of a different kind. The smoke billowing from the Nassau County Firefighters Museum emanated the aromas of grilled delight.

East Meadow, Bethpage and Rockville Centre fire departments battled in the 4th Annual “BBQ Grilling Throwdown” sponsored by Fairway Markets in Uniondale last week. The key message of the contest: holiday barbecue safety.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, Anton Community Newspapers publisher Angela Anton, board president of the museum Angelo Catalano, and Adam Miller, Fairway’s vice president of food service participated as judges in the contest.

East Meadow took home first prize, a $250 gift card to Fairway Markets, while Rockville Centre and Bethpage took second and third prize, a $50 gift card to Fairway. Each team nabbed a trophy, fitted with a mini-barbecue at its apex.

Firefighters were ready at 6 a.m. sharp, said Rockville team member Greg McClain…and they needed every second of those six or so hours to get ready.

He couldn’t decide which was hotter: the sun or the grill.

“We were here so early to prep and it was needed,” he said. “It’s all in good fun to make some good food and create awareness for barbecue safety. This hot day makes it harder to stand over the grill, but it’s great.”

Bethpage firefighter Charlie Razenson agrees. Bethpage FD took first, second, third and third place once again from 2009 to 2012.

“We’re talking about people not getting hurt,” Razenson stated. “If we can get a person to not get burned, to not do stupid things, like taking lighter fluid and pouring it all over the grill, is the message.”

Razenson focused on propane tank safety, indicating seven years is the particular lifespan of a unit and should be replaced immediately.

“You have to take care of the hose, every once in a while, test it,” he said. “Test your grill. Make sure it’s clean. All the food and drippings inside the barbecue, you need to make sure it’s clean.”

“Propane tanks have to be tested over a period of time,” Razenson continued. “After seven years, get rid of it. It’s a $50 item, but that item can take out your house if you’re not careful. It’s a small bomb. Take care of it, treat it correctly and you will have no problem.”

Razenson used a little secret ingredient of his own in his marinade: Merlot.

“I love using it,” he said. “It gives it a bolder taste.”

The Rockville Centre team made sweetmeat barbecue ribs and Japanese seasoned wagyu burgers. McClain said the mandatory poblano pepper ingredient was added at the last minute, which threw most of the teams for a loop.

“At first I said ‘okay, what do I do?’ Then it all came together,” McClain said.

East Meadow team cooks Mike Baumann and Howard Bartone said their most popular dish at the firehouse is steak and lobster. However, last Friday, it had to be ribs, burgers or chicken.

“We can pretty much cook anything, but today was fun, especially not knowing what curveball was going to be thrown at us,” Bartone said. “They gave us a pepper so we stuffed it.”

Mangano noted the burgers are a favorite in his household, especially using pepper jack cheese.

“We get creative sometimes,” Mangano said. “Sometimes we stuff [the burger]. It’s always a surprise. I like a little kick to it so some sharp cheddar and pepper jack cheese. I’ve never used that poblano [pepper] but I think I will in the future.”