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Firefighters vie for Super Bowl chili crown

Justin Higgs, 21, of Freeport is a lieutenant

Justin Higgs, 21, of Freeport is a lieutenant for the village's fire department. He is also a chili master. His recipe, which he says is the perfect combination of taste and spiceyness, won the first annual firefighters Super Bowl Chili Showdown. (Feb. 3, 2011) Credit: Jon Premosch

Five Nassau County fire departments got together Thursday afternoon to set fire to people's mouths.

It was the first Super Bowl Chili Showdown, and members of the Freeport, Hempstead, North Bellmore, Sea Cliff and Syosset fire departments broke out their top recipes. Local celebrities came out to judge the Nassau County Firefighters Museum event in East Garden City, including Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, Anton Community Newspapers publisher Angela Anton and Ray Venezia, master butcher for Fairway Market, which co-sponsored the event with the museum.

Teams from each department showed up with their slow-cookers in hopes of winning a trophy and a $250 shopping spree at Fairway.

Freeport took home the prize thanks to a recipe Lt. Justin Higgs, 21, got from his father and adapted. He said the result is the perfect balance between spicy and flavorful.

"I like to use a lot of different peppers and onions to give a little kick to it, but then I let it sit overnight so it gets a good flavor to it," he said.

Higgs also used his chili to demonstrate some Super Bowl safety. He said he is sure to always use a tight-fitting lid when he cooks so he can easily smother any stovetop fires that could start.

North Bellmore’s extra-spicy special and Syosset’s chopped sirloin-cherry sauce combo tied for second.


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