Latino Firefighting Cooks Honored as America’s ‘Hottest’ Firefighters in National Cook &...

Latino Firefighting Cooks Honored as America’s ‘Hottest’ Firefighters in National Cook & Ladder Competition



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AVERY ISLAND, La.–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–February 4, 2004–Ever wonder what inspires the culinary creativity of a firehouse chef between five-alarm alerts and daily rescues? Ten talented firefighting chefs from around the country traded in their turn-out coats and Scott packs for aprons and spice racks in anticipation of being named “America’s Hottest Firefighting Cook”. McIllhenny Company, maker of the world-famous Tabasco brand products hosted the heated cook-off between these talented firefighters as they competed for $10,000 in the third National Tabasco Cook & Ladder Competition held at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City.

After four hours of marinating shrimp, chopping cucumbers and presenting their dishes to a palette-ready panel of expert culinary judges, Leroy Fernandez of Park City, Utah proudly took home the grand-prize of $10,000 and the title of America’s Hottest Firefighting Cook for his tasty Baja Tequila Shrimp Rolls with Tomatillo Sauce. Ronnie Horruitiner of the City of Miami Fire Department took second-place and was awarded $5,000 for delighting judges with his Caliente Rum Cake. New York City firefighter William Benitez was awarded $2,000 and took third-place for his Cajun Red Snapper with Lime-Cilantro Beure Blanc and Spiced Candied Pecans. Prize money is split evenly between the firefighter and his firehouse.

Recipes were judged on taste, appearance, originality and creativity, recipe clarity, and use of one or more Tabasco sauces. The final judging panel included Paul McIlhenny, President and CEO of McIlhenny Company and fourth generation McIlhenny family member; Susan Westmoreland, food director at Good Housekeeping magazine; Geoffery Zakarian, Chef/Owner of Town in New York City; Richard Fuerch, Deputy Chief of the Fire Department of New York; and Dan Rinaldi, a Providence, Rhode Island firefighter and the 2002 National Grand-Prize Winner.

The first Tabasco Cook & Ladder Competition took place in New York City in 1994 at the French Culinary Institute, and evolved into a series of regional cook-offs staged throughout the United States in 1995 and 1996. In 2000, McIlhenny Company held the first-ever national Tabasco Cook & Ladder Competition in New York City at The Institute of Culinary Education.

Competition photos, recipes, and B-roll are available upon request.

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Gigi Garcia Russo

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Latino Firefighting Cooks Honored as America’s ‘Hottest’ Firefighters in National Cook & Ladder Competition