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The 2021 Virtual Iron Skillet® Cook Off: The Line Up

The Competitors

Kismartovi Mejia|Engine 314
Recipe: Engine Delight

Kismartovi‘s dish, The Firehouse Delight is inspired by his Colombian roots in which rice and beans are a staple food in their diet. Kismartovi wanted to create a dish that paid tribute to his heritage while bringing a lighter twist on a traditionally heavy meal. Inspired by a trip to Peru, Kismartovi choose Quinoa as a part of his competition dish and now uses it often when cooking for his family at his firehouse.

Khalid Baylor|Ladder 14
Recipe: Short Rib Tacos w/ Sweet Potato Puree & Peach BBQ Sauce

As a little boy, Khalid can remember his grandmother taking him to work with her, where she cooked at a local church next door to Engine 37 Ladder 40 on W. 125th St. When assigned to Engine 35, he found that most meals prepared did not reflect the culture of the community. Cooking allows Khalil to relieve stress and to share his artistic cooking talent. Khalid shares, “when we cook meals in the firehouse, we share stories and get to know one another as people who wear uniforms for a common cause. 

 James Lowe|Rescue 3
Recipe: JLO’s Lime Cilantro Shrimp Taco with Avocado Crema

James has been a firefighter for 30 years and loves breaking bread and sharing great memories with his brother firemen.

Lauren Plagainos|Engine 330
Recipe: Veggie Pasta Delight

Lauren, who goes by her middle name Grace, is a firefighter assigned to Engine 330 in Brooklyn. Lauren has always wanted to be a firefighter since she was a little girl. She grew up in West Brighton on Staten Island.

Staten Island
Jason Speiser|Squad 8
Recipe: Shrimp Roll Sandwich w/ Grilled Cilantro- Lime Sweet Potato Wedge

Jason has been part of the fire department since 2005, beginning his career in Engine 154. Jason worked 6 years with the summer boat program in the marine division, running a 33′ Safe Boat at Marine 8 on Staten Island. Three years ago, Engine 154 was slated to be shut down and converted to the 8th Squad Company in the city. After applying, Jason was taken into Special Operations Squad 8 on Staten Island. Jason is married with two boys and is an avid diver and hunter. 

2021 Honoree

Michael Barasch headshot

Michael Barasch, Managing Partner at Barasch & McGarry

The September 11th terrorist attacks shocked the world. First responders and thousands of individuals were exposed to harmful toxins when they returned to downtown Manhattan to work, to live, and to attend or teach at school. These people are still living a nightmare with respiratory disorders, cancers, and other disabling conditions linked to this exposure.

Barasch & McGarry is proud to have represented James Zadroga, an NYPD detective who developed pulmonary fibrosis as a result of his exposure to the deadly 9/11 toxins. His death persuaded Congress to pass the “James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.” The act reopened the first 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) to provide benefits to those suffering with the harmful consequences of toxic exposure to the World Trade Center dust.

When it became clear that Congress had not sufficiently funded the VCF, Michael relentlessly lobbied Congress with labor union members, responders, downtown office workers and downtown residents.

In 2015, Congress reauthorized the Zadroga Act. This extended the WTC HealthProgram for 75 additional years, and the VCF was given an additional $4 billion. But the VCF was only extended until December 2020; that is, until fairly recently.

From October 2018 through June 2019, Michael and several attorneys and staff from Barasch & McGarry joined dozens of first responders, FealGood Foundation volunteers, and comedian and 9/11 advocate Jon Stewart to advocate on behalf of the entire 9/11 community. They made dozens of trips to Washington D.C. to secure the permanent extension and full funding of the $10+ Billion VCF. He was there when the U.S Senate overwhelmingly passed the “Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeiffer, & Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Act,” which reauthorized and fully funded the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. Michael was invited by the White House to appear at the Rose Garden signing of the permanent extension and full funding of the law on July 30th, 2019.

The firm now represents more than 20,000 responders, downtown residents, office workers, students, and teachers who have been sickened by the 9/11 toxins. Barasch & McGarry has represented more 9/11 victims and recovered more money from the Victim Compensation Fund (over $2 billion) than any other law firm in the country. 9/11 didn’t end on 9/11. Michael is honored to represent the 9/11 community and feels blessed to be able to help so many people.

ISCO Master Chef: Michael Ayoub- Chef & Owner

Chef Michael Ayoub will work with each Firefighter to take their dish up a notch at Fornino Pier 6 Brooklyn Bridge Park and brought to you via live stream aired on October 25th.

Michael is a Brooklyn native and chef for over 45 years. Michael, known for such renowned restaurants as Skaffles and Cucina, was destined to bring his wood-fired pizza concept to Brooklyn. Taken from his mother’s maiden name, Fornino or Little Oven, expresses Michael’s true calling, combining his love of pizza with his decades of culinary experience.​

The heat from the custom-built wood-burning ovens that reach temperatures of 900 Degrees was not hot enough for Michael. When not dreaming up culinary wonders, he takes his talents to even higher temperatures…as an accomplished glass artist.

Stay Tuned as the event builds and more information is added