Members of the Bayport Fire Department felt they could win the "best chili" award for the second consecutive year because the competition tasted like minestrone soup, marinara sauce and pulled pork.
"We're the only ones that taste like chili," Kevin Collins, a Bayport fire district commissioner, said of their "after burn" recipe at a cook-off at the West Sayville Fire Department.
But Henry Montanez hoped his mother's spices from a family recipe would give the Brentwood Fire Department the edge.
"It's the sauce that gives it a lot of that flavor," said Montanez, a captain with Brentwood. "You can just smell it."
The departments were among 13 teams, including the Holbrook and Kings Park fire departments, in the third annual chili cook-off hosted by the soon-to-be-built Islip Town Firefighters Museum & Education Center.
Proceeds will support the construction of the museum, which will be built on Court House Drive in Central Islip across from Bethpage Ballpark, home of Long Island Ducks baseball team. The project is expected to be completed one year after groundbreaking, which could be this fall.
The museum, funded by donations, will offer fire education classes, and house antique trucks and artifacts of 21 Islip Town departments and ambulance corps.
"People don't remember in 1938 what kind of trucks were around," said Edward Tully Jr., president of the firefighters group, who recalled putting brush fires out with rakes and a broom.
Prizes were also awarded for second and third place and for "People's Choice."Douglas Adamson, an ex-captain in the Selden Fire Department, was betting on his smoked brisket chili.
He created the recipe years ago out of leftover smoked brisket.
"We brought it up another level," Adamson boasted.
In the end, his smoked brisket recipe took home the "best chili" crown.
"I had a good feeling about our chili recipe, but I was definitely surprised we took first place," he said.
Second place went to the Holbrook Lightning Engine Company No. 1; third place was the Sayville Fire Department, and the "People's Choice" award went to "Firehouse Kitchen," a PBS television show.