NY Daily News - November 03, 2010by Nicole Lyn Pesce
The final round of the second-annual Daily News 5 Alarm Cookoff airs on "Rachael Ray" Thursday, when each borough's top chef will re-create their winning dish for the grand prize package - a stunning haul that includes a GE Cafe Range from P.C. Richard and a $2,500 Key Food shopping spree for the firehouse, plus a cool $5,000 to line the winner's pocket.
But forget about the swag - what's most at stake here is the swagger.
Four of the five finalists are friends - and the good-natured trash-talking is in full swing.
"Me and [Brooklyn winner] John Sierp have got a little thing going on," says Bronx finalist Robert Painter from Engine 62. "He's been texting me and trying to psych me out, asking: 'Are you ready?'"
But Painter, 30, from Pelham Park, has tricks up his sleeve besides the recipe for his coconut-crusted Chilean sea bass with sweet plantain compote. "If you want to get under Sierp's skin, just ask him about 'Chopped,'" he laughs.
Turns out, Sierp is no stranger to culinary competition − he's thrown down with Bobby Flay and Martha Stewart, not to mention making it to the 5 Alarm finals last year. (He didn't win.)
But it seems the chicken wings he made on the Food Network's competition series "Chopped" were a hot mess.
It's a touchy subject. "Don't start about ‘Chopped,'" warns Sierp, 38, from Ladder 169. "I'm ready to go. Brooklyn's got it in the bag."