New Lenox pizzeria kicks off Battle of Badges contest with police, fire

Ernesto Lopez, a chef for Chicago Dough, 1080 E. Lincoln Highway, working on the kitchen on Friday, Sept. 1, 2023. Throughout September restaurant will feature pizzas designed by the New Lenox Police Department, the New Lenox Fire Protection District and Laraway Communications Center.

A monthlong pizza competition between the New Lenox Police Department, the New Lenox Fire Protection District and Laraway Communications Center has begun at Chicago Dough.

Throughout September, customers who visit Chicago Dough, 1080 E. Lincoln Highway, New Lenox, will be able to vote in the contest by purchasing one of three pizzas created by the three public safety agencies.

The contest is called Battle of the Badges Pizza Showdown.

Cherle Link, catering manager for the restaurant, said the contest is meant to raise awareness for police officers, firefighters, paramedics and dispatchers.

“I call them the backbone of our community,” Link said.

The three pizzas on the menu are called “Hot Pursuit,” from the New Lenox Police Detective Andrew Johnston, “Flashover” from New Lenox Deputy Fire Chief Terry Vavra and “Golden Link,” from Colten Boswell, dispatcher for Laraway Communications Center.

The website for the contest will feature a running tally of which pizza is selling the most.

The name of Boswell’s pizza is a reference to the “thin gold line” for dispatchers, a symbol that recognizes dispatchers like the “thin blue line” for police and the “thin red line” for fire departments, said Anthony Stua, deputy director for Laraway Communications Center.

Dispatchers are highly trained professionals who provide critical information for first responders, as well as residents, Stua said.

“For us to be able to participate is a great benefit for our agency,” Stua said.

New Lenox Police Chief Louis Alessandrini said the police department solicited its employees on the ingredients and collectively came up with the name of “Hot Pursuit” for the pizza. He said Johnston went home and returned with a prototype of the pizza, which got rave reviews, leading to Johnston’s election as department chef.

“I think it’s a fun way to raise money for some great area organizations,”

—  Marisa Schrieber, New Lenox Fire Protection District spokeswoman

“We were first contacted by Chicago Dough about the event and loved the idea right away. This is a great opportunity to keep up our friendly rivalry with our brothers in red and with the dispatchers as well,” Alessandrini said.

Marisa Schrieber, New Lenox Fire Protection District spokeswoman, said the contest will be a “wonderful opportunity.”

“I think it’s a fun way to raise money for some great area organizations,” Schrieber said.

The pizza that sells the most during September will be declared the winner. The winning pizza will then become a limited time offering at Chicago Dough from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31.

Fifteen percent of sales from the limited time offering will go to the agency with the winning pizza and that money will go to a charity of their choosing, according to a news release from Chicago Dough.

Each agency has selected the charity they will benefit. The police chose New Lenox Township Food Pantry, the fire protection district chose Project Fire Buddies and Laraway Communications Center chose Ronald McDonald House Charities.

Cherle Link, catering manager for Chicago Dough, 1080 E. Lincoln Highway, New Lenox, seen in the kitchen of the restaurant on Friday, Sept. 1, 2023. Throughout September restaurant will feature pizzas designed by the New Lenox Police Department, the New Lenox Fire Protection District and Laraway Communications Center.

Link said she was excited about the enthusiasm from each of the three agencies in coming up with their own pizza.

“They created it themselves,” Link said. “They have their own recipes.”

The “Hot Pursuit” pizza has spicy sausage, giardiniera, pepperoni, onion, roasted red peppers and olives.

The “Flashover” is a four-cheese pizza that also has spicy sausage giardiniera, roasted red peppers and pepperoni but with the additional ingredient of bacon.

The “Golden Link” pizza has a garlic parmesan crust with crumbled fried chicken, bacon and buffalo sauce drizzle.

“I thought they were very creative,” Link said. “All of them were delicious.”