New York City's Bravest battled a different kind of heat this weekend - in the kitchen.
Firefighters from the Bronx and Queens cooked their creations in just one hour to advance to "Top Chef"-style finals, to be hosted by Rachael Ray on her show in November.
Semifinal winners in the Daily News' FDNY Five-Alarm Cookoff competition also took home a 52-inch flat-screen TV from Best Buy for their firehouses.
Jimmy Lowe, 42, won top honors in the Bronx semifinals with his Parmesan and bacon-stuffed flank steak pinwheels, paired with beer-battered Vidalia onion rings.
The Bronx Rescue 3 firefighter perfected the dish in a cookoff last year: "I think I made 300-something onion rings."
Representing Queens Ladder 158, Keith Young won with jumbo shrimp a' la Terry Diablo," named for firefighter Terry Farrell, who died on 9/11.
Young, 45, stuffed his deep-fried crustaceans with Canadian bacon and Asiago cheese and topped them with a creamy shrimp and roasted red pepper sauce spiked with what he called "a very special ingredient": a splash of Jim Beam's Terry Farrell Firefighters Fund Bourbon.
The culinary showdowns, sponsored by Municipal Credit Union and Best Buy, were held Saturday and yesterday at the training kitchens of Lehman College and Long Island City High School. They were emceed by Amanda Freitag, chef at The Harrison in Tribeca and host of "The Next Iron Chef" on the Food Network.
"It was the sauce," said judge Trisha Guy-Violenus, of the Municipal Credit Union, that gave Young the win yesterday.
Lowe and Young will be joined on Ray's show by Sal DePaeola, 31, of Engine 160 on Staten Island, and John Sierp, 37, of Ladder 169 in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, as well as the winner of next Sunday's Manhattan semifinals.
Young, a graduate of Johnson & Wales University's culinary arts program who once bested chef Bobby Flay on his Food Network show "Throwdown," said he plans to win over Rachael Ray during the finals.
"I have a cutting board invention that's going to revolutionize the way we do everything in the kitchen," Young said.
For more dish on the Cookoff, including winning recipes, see tomorrow's NOW section.