BY KIRSTEN E. PAULSON
Barry McWilliams, Richard Nerko and Martin Vanschil, all firefighters and firehouse chefs from the Forest Hills fire station (Engine Co. 305 and Ladder Co. 151), competed against Atria Kew Gardens’ Director of Culinary Services Amanda Ciniglio and Chef Kevin Hernandez.
A crowd of Atria residents watched the competition and eagerly sampled each of the four appetizers the two teams made. The firefighters prepared guacamole, a hot spinach artichoke dip, salmon mousse on crackers and Moroccan carrot and beet salad. The Atria team also served guacamole, as well as salmon mousse on toast, a cold spinach artichoke dip and lemon ricotta with beet.
The Atria team won the cook-off — and a trophy — by a slim margin.
“They were very worthy competitors,” Ciniglio said. “They were very into their dishes. They took it very seriously, which was very nice. They really took pride in their food. They were so engaging with the residents, and the residents were so happy to have them. They were very good with them. The interactions were very good.”
In addition to the cook-off, Atria will also be celebrating National Culinary Arts Month by preparing recipes for the residents provided by the residents themselves.
As a token of appreciation for the firefighters’ visit and participation, the Atria Kew Gardens culinary team will be serving lunch and dinner at the firehouse during the following week, including a pork crown roast.