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More than 100 million viewers will tune in Sun-
day on a multitude of platforms to watch Super
Bowl LVII between the Philadelphia Eagles and
Kansas City Chiefs. h Tom Rinaldi will be work-
ing the Super Bowl sideline for the first time in his decorated career as a reporter, and
given that, he delivered a message without hesitation for all those set to witness and
revel in the spectacle that stands as the most watched television event of every year.
h “Don’t sleep on Jersey,” Rinaldi said with a laugh. h For Rinaldi, it’s a matter of
pride - and he’s not the only one.
He’s one of15 members with New Jersey ties
as part of Fox Sports’ broadcast team for the
Super Bowl in Arizona, a group headlined by
play-by-play man Kevin Burkhardt and analyst
Greg Olsen, both of whom were born and raised
in North Jersey, where they met nearly two
decades ago as “local radio sports guy and star
football player” when Burkhardt called Olsen’s
high school football games at Wayne Hills High
School.
Burkhardt, Olsen, Rinaldi and director Rich
Russo shared their stories for NorthJersey-
.com, part of the USA TODAY Network, detail-
ing the anticipated emotions for the big game
within a crew that has spent the season em-
bracing the moniker of “Jersey Boys” to the lev-
el of those who ran with Tony Soprano in fanta-
sy and Frankie Valli in reality.
PUTTING ON THE
JERSEY
WHY GARDEN STATE WILL BE FRONT AND
CENTER FOR 100 MILLION SUPER BOWL VIEWERS
On the NFL
Art Stapleton
NorthJersey.com
USA TODAY NETWORK – N.J.
See SUPER BOWL, Page 8A
Jersey guys Tom Rinaldi, left, a sideline reporter, play-by-play man Kevin Burkhardt, director
Rich Russo and analyst Greg Olsen are part of Fox’s broadcast team for Sunday’s Super Bowl.
COURTESY OF FOX SPORTS
EMT provides
first-aid services
to celebrities and
other notables
LIFE, 1LF
Weather today
High 52° | Low 49°
Afternoon rain.
Weather tomorrow
High 58° | Low 36°
Clouds and sun.
Forecast, 2A
Turkey, Syria death toll rises
Crews continue search for earthquake
survivors, with more than 11,000 people
confirmed dead. 9A
Cop files suit against township
Woman police officer in Wayne alleges
long history of discrimination and
retaliation. 1L
The Attorney General’s Office said
Paterson Police Officer Jerry Mora-
vek’s shooting of a fleeing suspect in
the back was such an “exceptional”
case that state authorities filed
charges against the cop without going
to a grand jury.
The Attorney General’s Office nor-
mally lets grand juries decide whether
to file charges against cops in the “vast
majority”of incidents in which officers
cause deaths or serious injuries, said
spokesperson Sharon Lauchaire. But,
she said, prosecutors also have the op-
tion to file charges by complaint with-
out a grand jury.
“Based on the facts uncovered dur-
ing our investigation and the laws of
the state of New Jersey, we exercised
our discretion as prosecutors and
charged Jerry Moravek by criminal
complaint,” Lauchaire said.
Attorney
general calls
shooting by
Paterson cop
‘exceptional’
Filed charges without
convening grand jury
Joe Malinconico
Paterson Press
See PATERSON, Page 7A
There’s a good chance an employer
has used artificial intelligence to de-
termine whether you’re the right fit for
a job.
Nearly one in four organizations
said they either use or plan to adopt AI
and other computerized processes for
hiring and recruitment, according to a
survey last year by the Society for Hu-
man Resource Management. Software
is taking over much of the routine work
of hiring, screening and information
gathering, said Chinmay Hegde, an as-
sociate professor of computer science
at New York University.
But skeptics worry about a dark
side: that AI systems trained on past
hiring decisions will simply automate
racial and cultural biases that have
previously shut out women, minor-
ities, people with disabilities or other
groups.
In response, some lawmakers in
New Jersey want more scrutiny of how
Has biased
AI cost you a
job? NJ may
regulate hiring
software
Daniel Munoz
NorthJersey.com
USA TODAY NETWORK – NEW JERSEY
See SOFTWARE, Page 7A
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It’s the rare EMT who’s on IMDB. h But Justin
Tsai has that distinction. Coming from a family involved
in health care — his sister and her fiance are doctors,
and his father worked at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospi-
tal in IT — Tsai, 26, planned to work as an EMT as a teen-
ager, training at the Bergen County EMS Training Center
and serving for several years as a lieutenant in the Town-
ship of Washington Ambulance Corps. In August 2020, he
launched his own company, Tsai Mobile Health, to provide
standby first aid services to clients on a freelance basis. h
What he never considered was that his work would lead to a
specialty and regular gigs working for celebrities and pro-
ducers in locations ranging from private hotel rooms to movie
sets. Past clients include musicians Lorde and Phoebe Brid-
gers, actors Neil Patrick Harris and Ben Foster, and well-
known corporate executives like Barbara Corcoran.
See TSAI, Page 2LF
Justin Tsai provides
first aid services to
celebrities and other
high-profile people
Cindy Schweich Handler
NorthJersey.com
USA TODAY NETWORK – NEW JERSEY
EMT
to the
STARS
Paramus native Justin Tsai is a
freelance EMT for celebrities and
on TV, movie and commercial
sets. Tsai poses for photos in
Woodland Park, on Dec. 13, 2022.
ANNE-MARIE CARUSO/NORTHJERSEY.COM
201-645-7023
The Record | THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2023 | 1LF
LIFE
How did Pete Napolitano become
WNBC’s famed “Produce Pete”?
What is Nonna’s Gumbroit, and how
do you make it?
How did a small lot by a gas station
pave the way for his family’s produce
store in Bergenfield that stood for nearly
50 years?
Napolitano answers those questions
and tells plenty of stories in “They Call
Me Produce Pete,” written with Asbury
Park Press freelancer Susan Bloom. The
book will be released on Tuesday, Feb.
14, at producepete.com, Barnes & Noble
and other locations.
The hybrid memoir and cookbook —
featuring behind-the-scenes interviews
with “Weekend Today in New York” co-
anchors Pat Battle, Gus Rosendale and
more — also includes family recipes, like
his mother’s escarole and beans.
“You could give me the best steak and
lobster in the world, and I’ll still want
those escarole and beans,” he said.
The more than 30 recipes in the book
are all centered around a vegetable or
fruit, Bloom said, including his Nonna’s
Gumbroit (similar to ratatouille), his
family’s broccoli rabe pie, and his wife’s
broccoli salad.
“The book is about Pete’s life through
the lens of food — foods that were really
special to him,” she said.
Napolitano’s parents were immi-
grants trying to make a life for them-
selves in America (his father hailed from
Italy, his mother from Ireland). His dad
took on countless jobs to make ends
meet, including bus driving, but what
he always came back to was produce
peddling.
“Back in those days, [peddlers] sold
anything, but fruits and vegetables were
the cheapest thing to get so we went into
the produce business,” he said.
His parents had little to their names,
and his father struggled with English,
but they did everything they could. Pete
helped them, with his smooth-talking
skills, traveling door-to-door to sell to-
matoes, melons and more.
One day, his mother stumbled upon a
gas station with an open lot next to it,
just down the street from what would
become Napolitano’s Produce Store in
Bergenfield.
In that original lot, the gas station’s
owner allowed her to sell watermelons
for the day, and low and behold she sold
every single one. The next day, she sold
even more.
Soon after, Pete’s father convinced a
local builder to build them their shop on
a loan, with no money and only a prom-
ise to pay. Surprisingly, the builder took
on the job.
“Like any immigrants, or anyone who
didn’t have too much money, we worked
long hours early in the morning to late at
night,”he said of the store that remained
open from 1959 to 2006. “We went from
not being able to pay rent, to having a
house in Florida … because we worked
hard, and stayed open [mostly] 365
days a year.”
While working in the store as an
adult in the late 1980s, Pete was discov-
ered by a WWOR (channel 9) television
rep, chatting with customers about pro-
duce and stories. The reporter asked
Pete to be on her show.
See PETE, Page 2LF
Produce Pete shares life story, favorite recipes in new book
Gabriela L. Laracca
Asbury Park Press
USA TODAY NETWORK – NEW JERSEY
Produce Pete Napolitano, who has
released a book, “They Call Me
Produce Pete,” with Asbury Park Press
reporter Susan Bloom about his life
and career, talks about the book at his
home in North Haledon on Jan. 25.
TANYA BREEN/ASBURY PARK PRESS
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Sometimes, the jobs lead to social
perks. “If anyone had told the teenage
me that in less than 10 years, I’d be at-
tending private parties with celebrities,
I would have been surprised!” he says,
referring to a Thanksgiving celebration
hosted by Matt Rogers, a comedian and
co-host of the “Las Culturistas” podcast
with “SNL’s” Bowen Yang.
Tsai includes his middle initial of G.
in official communications, he says, be-
cause there is actually another Justin
Tsai operating a medical firm in Param-
us, his hometown. But only one of them
has had his photo taken with “Termina-
tor” and “The Walking Dead” star Mi-
chael Biehn.
Who Ya Gonna Call?
While attending Seton Hall Univer-
sity, Tsai used his summer vacations in
the southwest to gain more skills and in-
sights into trauma care.
He spent one summer in Area 22
north of Las Vegas doing counter-ter-
rorism training, and two in New Mexico
learning about nuclear and bomb
threats; all three opportunities were
subsidized and run by FEMA, and made
possible because Tsai was a Township
of Washington EMT. The summer after
his junior year of college, he held a trau-
ma nursing internship at University
Hospital in Newark.
Weeks before he received his bache-
lor’s degree in nursing, while public re-
lations coordinator for the Township of
Washington Ambulance Corps, Tsai
connected to a production supervisor
who needed first aid oversight on some
food commercials being filmed in Jersey
City. The business arranging for his ser-
vices would eventually go bankrupt, but
the experience connected Tsai to a man-
ager who continued to hire him for re-
peat assignments.
As word of mouth spread, Tsai’s rep-
utation as a young man dedicated to
keeping clients safe during filming and
public events grew. The demand for on-
site EMT workers has gone up in recent
years, he says, due to an increase in reg-
ulations. “If you have a cat or dog in a
show or commercial, you need someone
from the Humane Society and an EMT
present,” he notes.
Sometimes the risk is obvious, as
when the Discovery Channel flew him to
Seattle to work with the crew of the real-
ity show “Deadliest Catch”. A workplace
he’s covering might have overhead ma-
chinery or involves fireworks, a gun go-
ing off or drag-racing.
Crowds are potential sources of dan-
ger – and COVID. (Since his company
took off during COVID, it has taken on
the added component of coronavirus
safety consulting; Tsai keeps COVID
tests on-hand, and sometimes has to
enforce coronavirus protocols.) He was
hired as a standby EMT to monitor a
pre-New Year’s event in Times Square,
when the carmaker Kia delivered the
numerals that would be seen behind the
annual ball-drop to a gathering of re-
porters and onlookers. “It was a couple
days before Christmas when the Omi-
cron variant was out there, and people
were lining up to take pictures,” he says.
“I had to tell people they were too close
to each other.”
The unexpected is also a source of
risk. In October, Tsai was working on a
movie set in a hotel when an actor
reached into his backpack and inadver-
tently impaled his finger on a knife
blade. “I told the owner of the company
making the movie that we needed to get
to a hospital because he was bleeding
out, and we couldn’t stop it by our-
selves.” Fortunately, a hospital was only
15 minutes away.
Other times, individuals need an
EMT present in a setting that looks de-
cidedly unthreatening – say, the apart-
ment where the 2022 Academy Award
nominees were announced in February.
“There’s a person speaking through a
videofeed, a camera crew, a detective
first grade from the NYPD and me there,
and we’re all focused on the VIP,” says
Tsai.
Well-known people such as “Shark
Tank’s” Barbara Corcoran, whom Tsai
has covered when she returns to Bergen
County to meet in a hotel with other real
estate executives, are at risk because
they’re potential targets, he says. The
same goes for live performers. “God for-
bid someone would come to one of these
shows, like when Phoebe Bridgers was
at Stone Pony, and I’m responsible for
the damage someone might do with a
gun,” he says.
On with the Show
As with most health care profession-
als, Tsai believes in continuing educa-
tion to stay current and prepared. Over
the last eight years, he has expanded his
skill set by attending seminars and be-
coming licensed and/or certified in spe-
cialties such as wilderness first aid, ad-
vanced stroke life support, use of haz-
ardous materials and psychological
trauma emergencies.
Sometimes, when he is already com-
mitted to a job, he will outsource work to
other EMTs on a per diem basis — as he
did when he was working for the Discov-
ery Channel in Massachusetts for two
months, and was invited to provide first
aid coverage to the singer Lorde at a
Roosevelt Island concert during the
same period of time. “Between the pan-
demic and lots of movies being made,
fall 2021 was the busiest time,” says
Tsai. When he hires others for coverage,
he says, it’s a “win-win-win, for myself,
the person being hired and the custom-
er. I want the client to know that some-
one’s going to be there.”
Tsai takes pride in being able to say “I
take care of everybody.” Noah Williams,
a producer and director for Vox Media
who has worked with him on several
projects, has observed how Tsai is well-
matched to his chosen field. He recalls a
shoot for Toyota conducted during a
massive snowstorm. “Justin is a jovial
spirit who cares deeply about his work
and those who are in his care,” says Wil-
liams. “He’s taken to the production
landscape like a fish to water.”
Tsai
Continued from Page 1LF
Every time, he said no. He needed to
tend to the store, just like his parents
once did.
Then one day, he came home to his
wife Bette.
“You better ... change because you’re
going to be on television in about an
hour,” she said.
At that time, the world was also deal-
ing with the1989 Chilean Grape Scare —
when boatloads of grapes imported
from Chile were being dumped after two
were found to contain
cyanide.
Being “a common
sense kind of guy,” he
said, he ate a grape on
that first show, just be-
fore the commercial
break. Whether out of
fear, or curiosity, the
show’s producer noted that not a single
viewer changed channels.
A week later, he signed a contract
with WWOR. In 1992, he moved to
WNBC (channel 4). For more than 30
years, Napolitano has appeared Satur-
days on “Weekend Today in New York”
(barring breaking programming).
Produce Pete and Bloom have been
working together since meeting at a
Morris County farmer’s market in 2010.
Since then, they’ve written a regular
produce column, which appeared in the
Asbury Park Press from 2011to 2019, and
can now be found on NJmonthly.com.
“Produce Pete is a nod to simpler
times in America, and he brings stories
that everyone can relate to,” Bloom said.
“He is comfort food for a lot of people.”
While he hopes his viewers enjoy the
book, he also wrote it for his grandchil-
dren. It seems they know “Produce Pete”
better than the young man who helped
his mom and dad all those years ago.
“This book is about me, but this book
is also about anybody who comes from a
family that started with nothing.”
“My grandkids don’t know Pete Na-
politano, they know Produce Pete,” he
said. “I always say there are two sepa-
rate people. This book is something
that’s going to be there for them to look
at, and they’ll know what we did. We
worked hard.”
For more information, visit
producepete.com. Those who purchase
the book directly from Napolitano’s site
will receive an autographed copy.
Gabriela L. Laracca joined the USA
TODAY NETWORK New Jersey in 2021
and eagerly brings her passion for cui-
sine and culture to our readers.
Pete
Continued from Page 1LF
Produce
Pete
Ad

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  • 1. More than 100 million viewers will tune in Sun- day on a multitude of platforms to watch Super Bowl LVII between the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs. h Tom Rinaldi will be work- ing the Super Bowl sideline for the first time in his decorated career as a reporter, and given that, he delivered a message without hesitation for all those set to witness and revel in the spectacle that stands as the most watched television event of every year. h “Don’t sleep on Jersey,” Rinaldi said with a laugh. h For Rinaldi, it’s a matter of pride - and he’s not the only one. He’s one of15 members with New Jersey ties as part of Fox Sports’ broadcast team for the Super Bowl in Arizona, a group headlined by play-by-play man Kevin Burkhardt and analyst Greg Olsen, both of whom were born and raised in North Jersey, where they met nearly two decades ago as “local radio sports guy and star football player” when Burkhardt called Olsen’s high school football games at Wayne Hills High School. Burkhardt, Olsen, Rinaldi and director Rich Russo shared their stories for NorthJersey- .com, part of the USA TODAY Network, detail- ing the anticipated emotions for the big game within a crew that has spent the season em- bracing the moniker of “Jersey Boys” to the lev- el of those who ran with Tony Soprano in fanta- sy and Frankie Valli in reality. PUTTING ON THE JERSEY WHY GARDEN STATE WILL BE FRONT AND CENTER FOR 100 MILLION SUPER BOWL VIEWERS On the NFL Art Stapleton NorthJersey.com USA TODAY NETWORK – N.J. See SUPER BOWL, Page 8A Jersey guys Tom Rinaldi, left, a sideline reporter, play-by-play man Kevin Burkhardt, director Rich Russo and analyst Greg Olsen are part of Fox’s broadcast team for Sunday’s Super Bowl. COURTESY OF FOX SPORTS EMT provides first-aid services to celebrities and other notables LIFE, 1LF Weather today High 52° | Low 49° Afternoon rain. Weather tomorrow High 58° | Low 36° Clouds and sun. Forecast, 2A Turkey, Syria death toll rises Crews continue search for earthquake survivors, with more than 11,000 people confirmed dead. 9A Cop files suit against township Woman police officer in Wayne alleges long history of discrimination and retaliation. 1L The Attorney General’s Office said Paterson Police Officer Jerry Mora- vek’s shooting of a fleeing suspect in the back was such an “exceptional” case that state authorities filed charges against the cop without going to a grand jury. The Attorney General’s Office nor- mally lets grand juries decide whether to file charges against cops in the “vast majority”of incidents in which officers cause deaths or serious injuries, said spokesperson Sharon Lauchaire. But, she said, prosecutors also have the op- tion to file charges by complaint with- out a grand jury. “Based on the facts uncovered dur- ing our investigation and the laws of the state of New Jersey, we exercised our discretion as prosecutors and charged Jerry Moravek by criminal complaint,” Lauchaire said. Attorney general calls shooting by Paterson cop ‘exceptional’ Filed charges without convening grand jury Joe Malinconico Paterson Press See PATERSON, Page 7A There’s a good chance an employer has used artificial intelligence to de- termine whether you’re the right fit for a job. Nearly one in four organizations said they either use or plan to adopt AI and other computerized processes for hiring and recruitment, according to a survey last year by the Society for Hu- man Resource Management. Software is taking over much of the routine work of hiring, screening and information gathering, said Chinmay Hegde, an as- sociate professor of computer science at New York University. But skeptics worry about a dark side: that AI systems trained on past hiring decisions will simply automate racial and cultural biases that have previously shut out women, minor- ities, people with disabilities or other groups. In response, some lawmakers in New Jersey want more scrutiny of how Has biased AI cost you a job? NJ may regulate hiring software Daniel Munoz NorthJersey.com USA TODAY NETWORK – NEW JERSEY See SOFTWARE, Page 7A YFCICD-00001v(a)m)O)b)a $3.49 F R I E N D O F T H E P E O P L E I T S E R V E S THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2023 NORTHJERSEY.COM PART OF THE USA TODAY NETWORK DAILY DISCOUNTS & SAVINGS ... PAGE 4A Medical Weight Loss • No Jitters • No Hunger Call for a Same-Day Consultation! Weekly visits keep you on track Hollywood’s Best Kept Secret in Bergen County! M.T. Shahab, M.D. MEDICAL DIRECTOR Non Surgical. Results & Coverage Vary Period. www.Slimdown123.com We accept most insurance plans 201-345-4993 NR-GCI0942751-16
  • 2. It’s the rare EMT who’s on IMDB. h But Justin Tsai has that distinction. Coming from a family involved in health care — his sister and her fiance are doctors, and his father worked at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospi- tal in IT — Tsai, 26, planned to work as an EMT as a teen- ager, training at the Bergen County EMS Training Center and serving for several years as a lieutenant in the Town- ship of Washington Ambulance Corps. In August 2020, he launched his own company, Tsai Mobile Health, to provide standby first aid services to clients on a freelance basis. h What he never considered was that his work would lead to a specialty and regular gigs working for celebrities and pro- ducers in locations ranging from private hotel rooms to movie sets. Past clients include musicians Lorde and Phoebe Brid- gers, actors Neil Patrick Harris and Ben Foster, and well- known corporate executives like Barbara Corcoran. See TSAI, Page 2LF Justin Tsai provides first aid services to celebrities and other high-profile people Cindy Schweich Handler NorthJersey.com USA TODAY NETWORK – NEW JERSEY EMT to the STARS Paramus native Justin Tsai is a freelance EMT for celebrities and on TV, movie and commercial sets. Tsai poses for photos in Woodland Park, on Dec. 13, 2022. ANNE-MARIE CARUSO/NORTHJERSEY.COM 201-645-7023 The Record | THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2023 | 1LF LIFE How did Pete Napolitano become WNBC’s famed “Produce Pete”? What is Nonna’s Gumbroit, and how do you make it? How did a small lot by a gas station pave the way for his family’s produce store in Bergenfield that stood for nearly 50 years? Napolitano answers those questions and tells plenty of stories in “They Call Me Produce Pete,” written with Asbury Park Press freelancer Susan Bloom. The book will be released on Tuesday, Feb. 14, at producepete.com, Barnes & Noble and other locations. The hybrid memoir and cookbook — featuring behind-the-scenes interviews with “Weekend Today in New York” co- anchors Pat Battle, Gus Rosendale and more — also includes family recipes, like his mother’s escarole and beans. “You could give me the best steak and lobster in the world, and I’ll still want those escarole and beans,” he said. The more than 30 recipes in the book are all centered around a vegetable or fruit, Bloom said, including his Nonna’s Gumbroit (similar to ratatouille), his family’s broccoli rabe pie, and his wife’s broccoli salad. “The book is about Pete’s life through the lens of food — foods that were really special to him,” she said. Napolitano’s parents were immi- grants trying to make a life for them- selves in America (his father hailed from Italy, his mother from Ireland). His dad took on countless jobs to make ends meet, including bus driving, but what he always came back to was produce peddling. “Back in those days, [peddlers] sold anything, but fruits and vegetables were the cheapest thing to get so we went into the produce business,” he said. His parents had little to their names, and his father struggled with English, but they did everything they could. Pete helped them, with his smooth-talking skills, traveling door-to-door to sell to- matoes, melons and more. One day, his mother stumbled upon a gas station with an open lot next to it, just down the street from what would become Napolitano’s Produce Store in Bergenfield. In that original lot, the gas station’s owner allowed her to sell watermelons for the day, and low and behold she sold every single one. The next day, she sold even more. Soon after, Pete’s father convinced a local builder to build them their shop on a loan, with no money and only a prom- ise to pay. Surprisingly, the builder took on the job. “Like any immigrants, or anyone who didn’t have too much money, we worked long hours early in the morning to late at night,”he said of the store that remained open from 1959 to 2006. “We went from not being able to pay rent, to having a house in Florida … because we worked hard, and stayed open [mostly] 365 days a year.” While working in the store as an adult in the late 1980s, Pete was discov- ered by a WWOR (channel 9) television rep, chatting with customers about pro- duce and stories. The reporter asked Pete to be on her show. See PETE, Page 2LF Produce Pete shares life story, favorite recipes in new book Gabriela L. Laracca Asbury Park Press USA TODAY NETWORK – NEW JERSEY Produce Pete Napolitano, who has released a book, “They Call Me Produce Pete,” with Asbury Park Press reporter Susan Bloom about his life and career, talks about the book at his home in North Haledon on Jan. 25. TANYA BREEN/ASBURY PARK PRESS
  • 3. 2LF | THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2023 | THE RECORD 888-350-3570 Hurry! Offer Expires Feb 28th *Offer expires 2/28/23. Valid on initial visit only. Min. purchase required. Cannot be combined with other offers. †Subject to credit approval. Interest is billed during the promotional period but all interest is waived if the purchase amount is paid before the expiration of the promotional period. Payment plans require a fixed APR during the life of the loan. Financing for GreenSky® consumer loan programs is provided by federally insured, equal opportunity lender banks. From Forbes.com/ home-improvement, 3/2/2022 © Forbes Marketplace Operations, Inc. 2022. NMLS #1416362. See website for state licenses and more details. PA #010099 - NJ HIC Reg.#13VH04341800 Licensed, Bonded, Insured. © 2023 Lednor Corporation Call For Your FREE ESTIMATE! WINTER IS TOUGH, GET A HELMET! NEW YEAR SALE 2019 Price Rollback!* Payment Options to Fit Any Budget† 12 Months Same As Cash† 551-316-6850 OR Family Owned & Operated For 41 Years Sometimes, the jobs lead to social perks. “If anyone had told the teenage me that in less than 10 years, I’d be at- tending private parties with celebrities, I would have been surprised!” he says, referring to a Thanksgiving celebration hosted by Matt Rogers, a comedian and co-host of the “Las Culturistas” podcast with “SNL’s” Bowen Yang. Tsai includes his middle initial of G. in official communications, he says, be- cause there is actually another Justin Tsai operating a medical firm in Param- us, his hometown. But only one of them has had his photo taken with “Termina- tor” and “The Walking Dead” star Mi- chael Biehn. Who Ya Gonna Call? While attending Seton Hall Univer- sity, Tsai used his summer vacations in the southwest to gain more skills and in- sights into trauma care. He spent one summer in Area 22 north of Las Vegas doing counter-ter- rorism training, and two in New Mexico learning about nuclear and bomb threats; all three opportunities were subsidized and run by FEMA, and made possible because Tsai was a Township of Washington EMT. The summer after his junior year of college, he held a trau- ma nursing internship at University Hospital in Newark. Weeks before he received his bache- lor’s degree in nursing, while public re- lations coordinator for the Township of Washington Ambulance Corps, Tsai connected to a production supervisor who needed first aid oversight on some food commercials being filmed in Jersey City. The business arranging for his ser- vices would eventually go bankrupt, but the experience connected Tsai to a man- ager who continued to hire him for re- peat assignments. As word of mouth spread, Tsai’s rep- utation as a young man dedicated to keeping clients safe during filming and public events grew. The demand for on- site EMT workers has gone up in recent years, he says, due to an increase in reg- ulations. “If you have a cat or dog in a show or commercial, you need someone from the Humane Society and an EMT present,” he notes. Sometimes the risk is obvious, as when the Discovery Channel flew him to Seattle to work with the crew of the real- ity show “Deadliest Catch”. A workplace he’s covering might have overhead ma- chinery or involves fireworks, a gun go- ing off or drag-racing. Crowds are potential sources of dan- ger – and COVID. (Since his company took off during COVID, it has taken on the added component of coronavirus safety consulting; Tsai keeps COVID tests on-hand, and sometimes has to enforce coronavirus protocols.) He was hired as a standby EMT to monitor a pre-New Year’s event in Times Square, when the carmaker Kia delivered the numerals that would be seen behind the annual ball-drop to a gathering of re- porters and onlookers. “It was a couple days before Christmas when the Omi- cron variant was out there, and people were lining up to take pictures,” he says. “I had to tell people they were too close to each other.” The unexpected is also a source of risk. In October, Tsai was working on a movie set in a hotel when an actor reached into his backpack and inadver- tently impaled his finger on a knife blade. “I told the owner of the company making the movie that we needed to get to a hospital because he was bleeding out, and we couldn’t stop it by our- selves.” Fortunately, a hospital was only 15 minutes away. Other times, individuals need an EMT present in a setting that looks de- cidedly unthreatening – say, the apart- ment where the 2022 Academy Award nominees were announced in February. “There’s a person speaking through a videofeed, a camera crew, a detective first grade from the NYPD and me there, and we’re all focused on the VIP,” says Tsai. Well-known people such as “Shark Tank’s” Barbara Corcoran, whom Tsai has covered when she returns to Bergen County to meet in a hotel with other real estate executives, are at risk because they’re potential targets, he says. The same goes for live performers. “God for- bid someone would come to one of these shows, like when Phoebe Bridgers was at Stone Pony, and I’m responsible for the damage someone might do with a gun,” he says. On with the Show As with most health care profession- als, Tsai believes in continuing educa- tion to stay current and prepared. Over the last eight years, he has expanded his skill set by attending seminars and be- coming licensed and/or certified in spe- cialties such as wilderness first aid, ad- vanced stroke life support, use of haz- ardous materials and psychological trauma emergencies. Sometimes, when he is already com- mitted to a job, he will outsource work to other EMTs on a per diem basis — as he did when he was working for the Discov- ery Channel in Massachusetts for two months, and was invited to provide first aid coverage to the singer Lorde at a Roosevelt Island concert during the same period of time. “Between the pan- demic and lots of movies being made, fall 2021 was the busiest time,” says Tsai. When he hires others for coverage, he says, it’s a “win-win-win, for myself, the person being hired and the custom- er. I want the client to know that some- one’s going to be there.” Tsai takes pride in being able to say “I take care of everybody.” Noah Williams, a producer and director for Vox Media who has worked with him on several projects, has observed how Tsai is well- matched to his chosen field. He recalls a shoot for Toyota conducted during a massive snowstorm. “Justin is a jovial spirit who cares deeply about his work and those who are in his care,” says Wil- liams. “He’s taken to the production landscape like a fish to water.” Tsai Continued from Page 1LF Every time, he said no. He needed to tend to the store, just like his parents once did. Then one day, he came home to his wife Bette. “You better ... change because you’re going to be on television in about an hour,” she said. At that time, the world was also deal- ing with the1989 Chilean Grape Scare — when boatloads of grapes imported from Chile were being dumped after two were found to contain cyanide. Being “a common sense kind of guy,” he said, he ate a grape on that first show, just be- fore the commercial break. Whether out of fear, or curiosity, the show’s producer noted that not a single viewer changed channels. A week later, he signed a contract with WWOR. In 1992, he moved to WNBC (channel 4). For more than 30 years, Napolitano has appeared Satur- days on “Weekend Today in New York” (barring breaking programming). Produce Pete and Bloom have been working together since meeting at a Morris County farmer’s market in 2010. Since then, they’ve written a regular produce column, which appeared in the Asbury Park Press from 2011to 2019, and can now be found on NJmonthly.com. “Produce Pete is a nod to simpler times in America, and he brings stories that everyone can relate to,” Bloom said. “He is comfort food for a lot of people.” While he hopes his viewers enjoy the book, he also wrote it for his grandchil- dren. It seems they know “Produce Pete” better than the young man who helped his mom and dad all those years ago. “This book is about me, but this book is also about anybody who comes from a family that started with nothing.” “My grandkids don’t know Pete Na- politano, they know Produce Pete,” he said. “I always say there are two sepa- rate people. This book is something that’s going to be there for them to look at, and they’ll know what we did. We worked hard.” For more information, visit producepete.com. Those who purchase the book directly from Napolitano’s site will receive an autographed copy. Gabriela L. Laracca joined the USA TODAY NETWORK New Jersey in 2021 and eagerly brings her passion for cui- sine and culture to our readers. Pete Continued from Page 1LF Produce Pete