Robert Painter, a New York City firefighter and owner of Muscle Maker Grill restaurants in Connecticut, will represent the Bronx in this year's 5 Alarm Cookoff, a kitchen competition pitting the best cooks in the New York Fire Department.
Painter, as well as the other finalists from Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island, will serve their dishes on an upcoming episode of the Rachael Ray syndicated television program, where a winner will be announced.
A member of Engine 63 in the Bronx, Painter will prepare Barramundi En Papillote, an Asian sea bass served in parchment paper with spinach, shaved black truffles, purple and white potato galettes, and a lemon truffle vinaigrette.
This is the third year Painter has appeared in the finals. Last year, he served Cajun duck creole grit pancakes with bourbon pecan currant sauce, and in 2010, he prepare a coconut-crusted Chilean sea bass with sweet plantain compote.
"I'm hoping the third time's a charm," Painter says. "I always like to challenge myself and come up with new dishes. There is strong competition every year, but it's time to bring the championship to the Bronx."
Painter recently reached an agreement to develop 15 Muscle Maker Grill restaurants in Connecticut. The first location is scheduled to open in Fairfield County in early 2013. Ten Muscle Maker Grill locations will be in Fairfield County, while the remaining five eateries are slated for New Haven County.
Muscle Maker Grill has become one of the fastest-growing restaurant chains in the country because of its unique concept. Founded in 1995 by Rod Silva, Muscle Maker Grill offers a nutritious alternative to fast-food restaurants.
The rapidly growing chain fills a void in the marketplace for quick, convenient, healthy meal options. Muscle Maker Grill prides itself on creating healthier versions of mainstream favorite dishes that taste great, making it easy and enjoyable to eat healthy.
"We are excited for Rob and wish him all the best in the 5 Alarm Cookoff," Silva says. "He has already made everyone in Muscle Maker Nation proud by reaching the finals, and we will be cheering for him as he competes for the title."
This marks the fourth year the 5 Alarm Cookoff has been held. In addition to Rachael Ray, sponsors include Relish magazine, PC Richard & Son, and the Daily News.