Left to right: Sgt. Dennis Prieto, Officer Kyle Wideman and Officer Ben Holliman RoundTable photos

The coals were hot and the burgers on the grill at 4 p.m. on Aug. 30, when the second annual grill-off between the Evanston Firefighters – the reigning champs – and the Evanston Police Department began.  Judges were the scores of people who climbed to the top of Whole Foods North, Church Street at Chicago Avenue, to enjoy and rate them. Six dollars bought one firefighter-burger and one police-burger, sides and a drink.

Winning would require more skill than just flipping burgers. “It’s the quality of preparation and incredible ingredients,” said firefighter/paramedic Jason Hayes. Dried cherries, Brie cheese, bacon and arugula flavored their burgers, he said. Mr. Hayes and his co-griller, fire-apparatus operator Craig Brannan, said they expected to win again this year. “We’re number one,” they said.

“The first thing is, ours are better,” countered police officer Benjamin Holliman. “We added chorizo and topped them with a great avocado spread.” Colleagues Sgt. Dennis Prieto and Officer Kyle Wideman agreed that their culinary efforts would prevail.  

“It was a close count,” said Jennifer Davis, who tallied the scores,  “but the Fire Department won … 57-50. “ Each department cooked about 150 hamburgers, and, as the six o’clock hour drew near, some hungry folks were turned away.

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...