Nothing says summertime and community like cookouts. And so it was when I wound up having the privilege of judging the BBQ Grilling Competition for the sixth consecutive year. Sponsored by Fairway Market and hosted by the Nassau County Firefighters Museum and Education Center in Garden City, this event is a wonderful way of drawing the community together while sharing tips on fire safety.
When I first started participating as a judge, it started out with maybe three volunteer firehouses competing and it was held on the pavement in front of the museum. About 30 people that were mostly media participated. Last week, a few hundred people came down to watch eight firehouses match their culinary skills against each other. There was face-painting for the children, someone dressed up as a big bunny rabbit was also there for the little ones while a group called the American Bombshells that were dressed up like World War II USO singers sang patriotic songs. With all the family-friendly hubbub and delicious-smelling food, it felt like the parking lot had been turned into a mini-county fair.
As for the food, it was three courses of mouth-watering burgers, chicken and ribs, all served up by local Girl Scouts. In the end, Syosset came in third, Malverne placed second and Westbury, which was participating for the first time, took top honors. What was really nice was that beyond the friendly competitive cooking, the firefighters took time to share safety tips about safely barbecuing, hot to dispose of charcoal and the dangers of working with fire and warnings about grilling in an enclosed area.
Fairway was a truly outstanding sponsor. Not only did the supermarket give each team a $250 Fairway gift card with which to buy ingredients, (essentially donating all the meat), but the winning team was awarded a $500 gift card. I later found out that Fairway took it one step further and decided it would donate a portion of money made at the store on Aug. 6 to the Nassau County Firefighters Museum.
Community is everything to me, and with Fairway, a supermarket chain with very local roots, bringing together different facets of the community—volunteer firefighters, Girls Scouts and residents—I’m more than proud to have been a judge for an event that gives back on so many levels.