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Weston Firefighters Answer The Call At Westport's MacChili Fest

The Weston Volunteer Fire Department Chili Team took home second place in their category at Westport's Mac ChiliFest Sunday.
The Weston Volunteer Fire Department Chili Team took home second place in their category at Westport's Mac ChiliFest Sunday. Photo Credit: Contributed/Bruce Ando
Ray Cooney from 'Firehouse Kitchen' gives his support to the Weston team members for their chili.
Ray Cooney from 'Firehouse Kitchen' gives his support to the Weston team members for their chili. Photo Credit: Facebook

WESTON, Conn. — The Weston Volunteer Fire Department Chili Team served up a large batch of award-winning chili to festival-goers in Westport on Sunday — with the help of a lot of friends.

“We went through about 10 gallons worth of chili,” Volunteer Firefighter Frank Caolo said. His team took home second place in their category in the MacChili Fest.

Caolo said his team made a meat chili, which included pork and beef. “It really worked out well,” Caolo said. “It was delicious."

Caolo said he was grateful to Fred and Michele Bialek, owners of Liquid Lunch and GROW in Shelton, who opened up their commercial kitchen to the firefighters. He said his team couldn’t possibly have prepared such a large quantity of chili in the firehouse’s kitchen.

Seven firefighters helped prepare the batch, including Caolo, Andy Wittenstein, Alex Gunuey, Mark Unangst, Mike Zegers, Sal Giannitti and Mark Mainieri.

The firefighters were also greeted by a television personality. Ray Cooney from “Firehouse Kitchen” stopped by to watch them prepare the chili before the team headed to the festival.

Caolo said more than 1,000 people attended the event, which was held before Sunday’s Super Bowl. Festival-goers were able to enjoy an “unlimited sampling” of the entries and then voted for their favorites in different categories.

In addition to the Weston firefighters, another firehouse and 17 local restaurants cooked up their best batches for the event.

The event helped raise funds for the Shelton-based Mary A. Schmecker Turtle Shell Fund, which “provides creative outlets in arts, music and artisan crafts in order to create a rich cultural heritage for tomorrow,” according to its website.

Several local eateries took home the top prize in three categories: ChiliBomb of Fairfield was the classic beef champion; Little Pub of Greenwich, Ridgefield, and Wilton was the creative chili champion; and Simply Delicious of Norwalk was the mac n’cheese champion.

And, for the firefighters, some of their delicious chili is still around for them to enjoy. Even after the big game Sunday, “we still have a little bit left over,” Caolo said.

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