On Sunday, October 16th, 2016, the Southern Manatee Fire Rescue District participated in Morton’s Market 17th Annual Chili Cook-off that raises money for the Sarasota Fire Fighters Benevolent Fund. For the past 17 years, Firefighters from the Sarasota-Bradenton area compete in this annual event for recognition of having the “BEST” chili as well as trophies and other prizes.


This year there were fifteen (15) Teams from various Fire Stations around the area that competed. Each Team had to prepare 30 gallons of chili, a total of 450 gallons of chili was consumed by the public in the matter of a few hours. Each Teams booth is judged on their theme and set up attire and then their chili is sampled by celebrity judges for taste, appearance and consistency and lastly the public votes for “People’s Choice”. There are five (5) awards, 1st place, 2nd place, 3rd place, Best Booth and People’s Choice.


Firefighter/EMT Chuck Moonen was our Team Leader (Chef) that prepared his famous “Haz-Mat Chili”, which in 2015 took the “People’s Choice Award” and 3rd Place Trophy during the 2015 Chili Cook-off.


Assisting Chuck with booth set up, warming up the chili, dishing out the chili, adding the chili toppings, serving the chili and marking the citizen’s card was his Team that consisted of Chuck’s wife Mary, Battalion Chief Herb Smith, Deputy Chief Bounds and his son Logan, FF/EMT Robert Davis and his cousin Alex Davis, Paramedic Crystal Tucciarone, FF/EMT Richard McGinley and his wife Pam, Lieutenant/EMT Danny Burton, Lieutenant/EMT Adam Chevalier and his fiancé Laura, Fire Marshal Leslie Adent and her husband Ted, Inspector Kenny Reed and his wife Linda, Suzann Moore and Fire Chief Brian Gorski and his wife Tracy.


For the public the Chili Cook-off started at 2:00 and ended at 5:00, however the actual set-up of this event began in the early morning hours and take down in late evening. The official count of the number of citizens that attended is still being tabulated, however it was close to or over 1000. By 5:30 the celebrity judges completed their tabulation of the votes and announced that the 3rd Place winner was Longboat Key Fire Rescue, 2nd Place winner was Nokomis Fire and 1st Place winner was Southern Manatee Fire Rescue District. Best booth award went to Sarasota County Fire Department Station #1 (TV land) and the “People’s Choice Award” went to Southern Manatee Fire Rescue District, 2 years in row!


FF/EMT Chuck Moonen and his famous “Haz-Mat Chili” and his Team did another outstanding job and look forward to next years’ event.

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