On Sunday I attended the 3rd Annual Fireplace Chili Cook-Off at the Squantz Engine Company, the fire department in New Fairfield, CT. The proceeds from the event will not contribute towards the company’s goal of purchasing a new engine to replace an engine they have now, but that’s not why I went specifically. My friend, Matt Lucero, A firefighter in Darien CT who is known all over Fairfield County for his cooking skills was a participant in the event. While it seems unfair to all the other firefighters that he be allowed to participate, he nevertheless agreed to attend as it is for a great cause. I’m thinking she allowed himself some sort of handicap to keep things fair.
If there one thing that firefighters are known for (other than fighting fires and rescuing cats from trees) it is their cooking. In fact, they are a competitive lot, fiercely proud of their cooking (with good reason), and love to show off their culinary skills with events like this one. You could probably find a firefighter cook-off every weekend of the year near you if you wanted. And you should, the food is amazing. Am I biased because Matt is a friend of mine? Of course not. When the laws of the universe say that Matt’s chili is the best in the world, there is no bias, it is just a simple fact, and you can’t argue against universal laws.There were a fair amount of entrants, and to be honest, all the chili was pretty good, with styles ranging from the smokey and savory, to the sweet and tangy. While my taste leans towards the savory, there wasn’t a chili there that I didn’t enjoy tasting. With meats ranging from venison to beef, tastes from barbecue sweet to robust and savory, even traditional and off the wall, the turn out was very good and the chili better. As much as I tried, I couldn’t pry Matt’s recipe from him, but I have to say that I was quite impressed with his as it had a nice meaty flavor, and, above all, the best texture I have found in a chili… It held together without being too watery, a fault I saw in every other entrant.
While Matt didn’t win, and I didn’t expect the non-local to win anyway, I felt that his chili was the best simply due to it’s meeting all the classic ‘chili’ standards while holding together in a great chili way. I may have to resort to darker measures to find his recipe. But whether I do or don’t, it was a fun day at the Squantz Engine Company, and we left there quite content. We’re on to find one more local now, hopefully one in our own backyard.