Hundreds of people packed the the Cutchogue firehouse last night for the Cutchogue fire chiefs’ 20th annual steak night.
Vollies cooked and served up thick steaks grilled to perfection over an open charcoal pit, baked potatoes, green beans and tossed salad for 300 ticket-holders.
Firefighters Jack Lademann, Matthew Martin, Greg Boyd and Chris Talbot were last night’s grillmasters, tending the marinated steaks on a charcoal pit behind headquarters. Their efforts sent the aroma of sizzling beef wafting into the cold night air.
“I could smell it all the way down 25,” said Mary Krupski of Cutchogue.
The men are serious as they work, carefully arranging the steaks on stainless steel racks that fit on the pit, then turning them individually with forks and checking each steak with a meat thermometer.
Lademann and Martin, both 57-year members of Cutchogue Fire Department, have been overseeing the CFD grill on each steak night since the event was begun 20 years ago. Lademann’s an old hand at the grill — he’s been on the pit committee for the department’s annual chicken barbecue for 53 of the summer event’s 59 years.
He and Martin wore head lamps to illuminate the grill as they work.
“It’s good. We put them on, we turn them and test them to make sure they’re cooked right. We never get too many complaints,” Lademann said with a chuckle.
Once cooked to the grillmasters’ satisfaction, the steaks are transferred to foil-lined plastic tubs, covered and brought inside to the waiting crowd.
Time spent waiting in the long and serpentine chow line became part of the fun, providing guests a chance to socialize with others in attendance.
More than a dozen prizes were raffled off, with the grand prize a $250 gift certificate donated by Roberts Jewelers of Southold. A 50-50 drawing offered a $750 cash prize.
“We really appreciate the support of the community,” Chief William Brewer said. The event was a sell-out, he said. It’s a tremendous team effort on the part of members of the department, the auxiliary and the juniors, the chief said, but it’s the support of local businesses and residents that have made the annual event such a success for 20 years running.
March is a busy month for Cutchogue Fire Department, with its popular St. Patrick’s Day parade in two weeks. The 12th annual parade, hosted in conjunction with the North Fork Chamber of Commerce, steps off at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 12 at the traffic light at Cox Lane and proceeds down Route 25, ending in the village.
SoutholdLOCAL photos by Peter Blasl