With Rachel Ray Waiting To Show Finals, Daily News' FDNY Five Alarm Cookoff Is A Fiery Competition

NY Daily News - October 05, 2009

by Leah Chernikoff and Nicole Lyn Pesce

New York City's firefighters traded their helmets for chef's hats in the Daily News' FDNY Five Alarm Cookoff Competition.

Finalists from firehouses in Brooklyn and Staten Island competed over the weekend in the first two cookoffs, sponsored in part by the Municipal Credit Union and Best Buy.

The Bravest chef-testants battled it out "Top Chef"-style with exactly one hour to prep and cook their dishes while being filmed for the Rachael Ray show and judged by a panel of celebrity judges.

"I just pretended I was at the firehouse and that no one was watching," said Staten Island winner Sal DePaeola, 31, from Engine 160, who took home the prize for his Chipotle Jambalaya.

Sissy Biggers - host of the Food Network's "Ready, Set and Cook!" - emceed the first two battles at the New York City College of Technology in Brooklyn and Port Richmond High School in Staten Island. Cookoffs will take place in three more boroughs this month, and the finals will be held in November on Ray's show.