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People,Brian Hughes

Purdy, a member of the Prince George's County Fire and EMS Department, will serve as grillmaster at the Guns and Hoses BBQ Challenge on Saturday, when the fire department will square off against county police officers for barbecue supremacy. The event will take place from 2 to 5 p.m. at Restaurant Row, located at 900 Capital Centre Blvd. in Largo. With at least a $2 donation, anyone can sample the food and cast his or her vote for the winner.

Why did your fellow firefighters crown you the chef?

I joined the fire service at 16 and have been cooking for the 23 years since. I love to cook, and I hate to clean up, so that's why I cook -- then I don't have to clean. I do ribs, boneless chicken, macaroni and cheese, seafood salad, pulled pork -- everything I do is homemade. You can't ignore the sides. They bring in all the other stuff. They're a major part of my catering business, Word of Mouth.

Your police competition has been talking trash on Twitter. Any response?

They can bring whoever they want. I'll marinate my ribs ahead of time and by 9 a.m. Saturday, I'll fire up the grill. It'll take three-and-a-half to four hours, cooked nice and slow. It will fall off the bone.

Are you a vinegar or mustard guy?

I combine four different sauces, and the one I use gives it a vinegary flavor. To me, it tastes better.

So Washingtonians won't come away hungry from the event?

Oh no, absolutely not. It's going to be a great time with great food and great people. And proceeds will be donated to the County Police Explorers Program in memory of [Prince George's police Officer] PFC Adrian Morris.

Why do you focus so much on cooking?

It's the enjoyment of seeing the people and making them happy with your food. You can't top that.

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