About a dozen police officers, firefighters, and EMTs cooked up their best dishes Sunday afternoon with their sights set on being named the top chef among the city’s first responders.
The inaugural First Responders Charity Cookoff was held at the Beacon to benefit the Jersey City Firefighters Distress Fund, the Police Unity Tour and the Code Green Campaign.
Cake Boss Buddy Valastro and New Jersey Devils legend Ken Daneyko were among the celebrity judges who helped taste and judge the first responders’ dishes.
Jersey City Police Officer Mariela Nieves took home two of the top five prizes — the People’s Choice Award and the Cake Boss Award — for her Spanish pork and rice dish. The 11-year veteran and South District officer said she’s looking forward to competing again next year.
“I love things like this,” Nieves said of the event. “You get to talk to the people of the community.”
Jersey City Medical Center EMTs Ernie Rios and Ray Krajovics placed second in the People’s Choice category for their butternut squash pasta with brown butter sauce and grape tomatoes.
Emergency Service Unit officer Emilio Ramos won the best overall dish for his pancit palabok and East District officer Franky Marto earned the Chief’s Choice Award for his chicken fajita meatballs with black beans and jalapeno macaroni and cheese.
Th other officers to compete in the challenge included:
West District Det. Doris Johnson: savory collard greens and Greek grilled chicken salad
South District officer Jermaine Truesdale: stuffed chicken breast over pasta
East District officer Joe Boccassin: pasta puttanesca,
North District officer Matt Lowenwirth: slight kicker chili
North District officer Michael Tamburri: chicken over angel hair pasta