Build a Better Burger Contest Winners – 1999

Build a Better Burger Contest Winners – 1999

With Californians now ineligible to participate in BBB, an effort was made to generate more entries to make up for losing the state that had generated 50 to 60 percent of the contest submissions. A winning recipe was chosen each day from Memorial Day through Labor Day and awarded $100. Sutter Home wine bottles on grocery store shelves sported bottleneck brochures containing burger recipes, mail-in grocery and wine rebate offers, and instantly-redeemable coupons for mustard and cheeses.

Classic white with deep green accents was the look of the last cook-off of the century. The cooking stations sported white awnings and white table coverings on the lush green lawn, and green tablecloths surrounded by white chairs under white umbrellas provided comfortable seating for the guests. Three Napa Valley chef Judges in crisp white jackets added to the theme. Chef Thomas Keller, who had recently been honored as Chef of the Year by the James Beard Foundation and whose restaurant, The French Laundry, had been named the best restaurant in America by numerous sources, confessed that he judged all burgers by his benchmark—the burgers served at In-and-Out Burgers, a West Coast chain that’s been around since 1948.

While waiting for the results, the finalists and guests were entertained by comedian David Feldman and the rocking tunes of Gigi and Snake Boy.

Julie DeMatteo, a veteran cooking contester and retired schoolteacher, had been trying for eight years to be selected as a finalist for BBB. Turning to Caribbean cuisine for inspiration finally did the trick and landed her a spot as one of the five regional finalists. Her jerk-inspired, spicy pork patties dressed with mango mayonnaise on seeded rolls landed her in the top spot at the end of the day.


James McNair’s staff screened the entries and a panel of independent food experts assisted him in choosing five regional finalists.

Event Manager

Kristin O’Connor, Public Relations Coordinator, Sutter Home Winery


  • Grand Prize: Julie DeMatteo, Clementon, New Jersey – Down Island Burgers with Mango Mayo & Grilled Onions

Other Finalists

  • Frances Benthin, Scio, Oregon – Korean Beef Burgers with Creamy Kimchi Sauce
  • Wolfgang Hanau, West Palm Beach, Florida – Bertesca Piedmont Burgers with Gorgonzola and Grilled Italian Eggplant and Tomato Salad
  • Camilla Saulsbury, Bloomington, Indiana – Punjabi Burgers with Grilled Mango and Raita
  • Patricia Schroedl, Jefferson, Wisconsin – Belt-Bustin’ Chile Burgers with Cheddar-Cilantro Butter


James McNair, Head Judge
Antonia Allegra
Lynne Rosetto Kasper
Thomas Keller
Donna Scala
Jeffrey Starr

Build a Better Burger Contest Winners - 1998

Build a Better Burger

Build a Better Burger Contest Winners - 1998