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About the Author

Born and bred in blue-collar Brooklyn, Tom Casatelli turned down a scholarship to the School of Visual Arts and an apprenticeship with Abstract Expressionist Fred Mitchell to join the FDNY. He has since worked in some of New York City’s busiest firehouses and drank in some of its diviest bars.


As a firefighter, he was awarded the Vincent Kane Medal of Valor in 2000 for the daring rescue of an elderly civilian from a collapsed building in Downtown Brooklyn. The account of this rescue is celebrated in the 2002 Paul Hashegan book Fire Department/ City of New York, The Bravest: An Illustrated History 1865-2002. Tommy’s 9/11 story of survival has been told in the lauded 2002 Mike Lennon film Brothers on Holy Ground (narrated by the great Pete Hamill) and on Nightline with Ted Koppel.

Tom is an associate of the New York City Firefighter’s Burn Center Foundation and is the founder of The Ridge Music Festival, a charity concert that raised funds for the Burn Center and other organizations. He is also the co-founder of Bands for the Beach, a charity concert for victims of Hurricane Sandy that featured the legendary Dublin City Ramblers.

Tom began writing shortly after dawn on September 12th, 2008 and has stopped exactly twice since; once for coffee and once for eleven years. He has received scholarships to study at Gotham Writer’s Workshop in New York City and Freebird Workshop in Brooklyn. He submitted exactly two short stories for publication; both were published- the first in the Park Slope Reader in October of 2009 and the second in Thuglit in January of 2010.

A legendary Brooklyn bartender for over twenty years, Casatelli opened The Kettle Black Bar and Restaurant in 2004 to immediate success, a full-length article in the New York Times, and a nod as one of the top wing joints in America by Food & Wine Magazine. In 2007, Tom won Bar and Restaurant Owner of the Year, created the winning taco for the 2016 Thrillist Taco Knockout for his second restaurant, Ho’Brah Tacos, and currently oversees several restaurant concepts in multiple markets.

Tom has spoken to firefighters all over the country and visited firehouses in South Carolina and Alabama after line of duty deaths. He hopes to one day work with the FDNY’s Counseling Unit as a Peer Mentor where he will do his best to recognize firefighters who look just like him.

Tom lives on Staten Island with his daughter Abigail, son Tristan, future step-daughter Sabrina, and his beautiful girlfriend, Victoria, a former disco queen from Brooklyn, who knew he’d come around, eventually.

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