Build a Better Burger Contest Winners – 2002

Build a Better Burger Contest Winners – 2002

Expensive, luxury-ingredient burger wars erupted in 2002 among New York chefs and made big news across the country, especially when prices soared to $41 for a burger at Mark Sherry’s Old Homestead and $50 for a truffled burger at Daniel Boulud’s DB Bistro Moderne. Reflecting the times, a number of BBB entries echoed this trend, with recipes calling for Kobe beef, truffles, foie gras, and caviar.

In an effort to make it possible for Californians to once again participate in the contest, the American Culinary Federation presented the competition, with Sutter Home and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association as sponsors. Finalists were chosen in two divisions: Best Beef Burger (Grand Prize) and Best Alternative Burger.

The cook-off was open to the public as a benefit for City of Hope’s Breast Cancer treatment programs. Pride and Joy once again provided upbeat music from a large stage located on one side of the expansive lawn of the Trinchero Family Estates ranch, while on the other side, guests sampled each of the competing recipes (prepared by Chef Jeffrey Starr and his Sutter Home kitchen crew) and marked their ballots for the People’s Choice Award.

Throughout the afternoon, guests purchased raffle tickets for burger-related items and shopped the general store for burger paraphernalia and cookbooks written by several of the Judges, with all proceeds going to City of Hope.

Chef John Zehner, a regional vice president of American Culinary Federation, emceed the cook-off ceremonies. As in the previous year, the people and the Judges chose to honor different burgers, with the crowd going for a beef burger topped with barbecue sauce, bacon, and blue cheese created by Adam Payson of Omaha, Nebraska. The Judges chose the Italian-style tender veal patty on focaccia made by Annelle Williams as the Grand Prize winning “Best Beef Burger.” The spicy shrimp burgers topped with crisp pancetta, created by Kelly Bailer Krauss won the “Best Alternative Burger” prize.


James McNair’s staff screened the recipes and a panel of independent food experts assisted him in choosing five regional finalists in each of two categories: Best Beef Burger and Best Alternative Burger.

Event Manager

Michele Moline, Event Manager, Trinchero Family Estates


  • Grand Prize (Best Beef Burger): Annelle Williams, Martinsville, Virginia – Vitello Focaccia
  • Best Alternative Burger: Kelly Bailer Krauss, Little Falls, New Jersey – Spicy Summer Shrimp Burgers with Crisp Pancetta
  • People’s Choice Award: Adam Payson, Omaha, Nebraska – Chipotle-Honey BBQ Bacon Burgers with Gorgonzola Cheese

Other Finalists

Best Beef Burger

  • Scott Collier, Austin, Texas – Burgers Wellington
  • Karen Nicholes McVarish, Davis, California – Relleno Burgers with Fresh Chile Mango Salsa
  • Susan Mello, Jackson Heights, New York – Portuguese Pineapple Picando Burgers

Best Alternative Burger

  • Virginia C. Anthony, Blowing Rock, North Carolina – Autumn Pork and Apple Burgers
  • Jim Bradley, Chicago, Illinois – Ragin’ Cajun Pecan Pork Burgers with Spicy Onions
  • Robin Ekiss, San Francisco, California – Thanksgiving Turkey Burgers with Cranberry Pecan Mint Pesto
  • Peter Halferty, Corpus Christi, Texas – Peking Duck Burgers


James McNair, Head Judge
Joey Altman
Pam Anderson
Kate Heyhoe
Todd Humphries
Charles Neave
Katie O’Kennedy
Caprial Pence
John Pence
Jamie Purviance

Build a Better Burger Contest Winners - 2001

Build a Better Burger

Build a Better Burger Contest Winners - 2001