Build a Better Burger Contest Winners – 2005

Build a Better Burger Contest Winners – 2005

The 15th anniversary of Build a Better Burger® was celebrated in grand style under perfect blue skies in the full-bloom gardens of the Sutter Home Victorian. Six camera crews from Food Network recorded every detail of the day for the Food Network Challenge show.

For the first time in contest history, the guests at the cook-off were allowed to watch the judging process. Andrew Moore introduced each contestant to the crowd and to the judges, who were lined up on stage inside the big tent. After each finalist passed their burgers to the judges, they remained onstage to field questions about their recipes. A lucky group of VIP guests, including two former Grand Prize winners, the publisher and designer of the Build a Better Burger® cookbook, and the sponsors, were seated in front of the stage and sampled extra burgers prepared by the finalists.

During the afternoon, Sutter Home President Bob Torkelson shared bits of BBB’s colorful history and introduced guests who’d played a part in the contest through the years. He and ceramic sculptress Cynthia Hipkiss presented a trophy similar to those given to the prizewinners to Head Judge/Honorary Chairman James McNair, in appreciation for his 15 years of service to BBB.

After the scores were tallied, Chef Scott Leibfried, host of Food Network Challenge, joined James on stage to present the awards. The Best Alternative Burgers Prize went to Ellie Matthews of Port Townsend, Washington, who has the distinction of also being a $1,000,000 Grand Prize winner of the Pillsbury Bake-Off.

For the first time in BBB history, a professional chef captured the Grand Prize. Chef Barry Rosenstein, a food and beverage director in Chicago, caught the judges’ eyes with burger buns that had been painted bright red and lured their tastebuds with his flavor-packed, Moroccan-inspired burgers.

A special anniversary cake created by Napa pastry master Sam Godfrey topped off the afternoon. As guests departed, they each received a copy of the newly released Build a Better Burger® book, containing 15 years of contest history and prize-winning burgers.


James McNair’s staff screened the recipes and a panel of independent food experts assisted him in choosing three recipes from each of five regions. The chefs of Sutter Home’s culinary center prepared those 30 recipes for tasting and scoring by the preliminary judging panel to select the finalist in each of the two categories from each of the five regions. Judges were James McNair and his assistant Andrew Moore; Linda Carucci, the Julia Child Director of Culinary Programs at Copia: the American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts; freelance food writers Jill Hunting and Lori Narlock; and Sutter Home personnel Wendy Nyberg (brand manager), Mary Ann Vangrin (public relations director), Colleen LeMasters (public relations assistant), James Houghton (chef) and Brenda Bosetti (chef).

Event Manager

Michele Moline, Public Relations and Event Manager, Sutter Home


  • Grand Prize: Barry Rosenstein, Elmhurst, Illinois: Sweet and Spicy Red Fez Burgers
  • Best Alternative Burgers Prize: Ellie Matthews, Port Townsend, Washington: Grilled Pork Burgers Indochine

Other Grand Prize Finalists:

  • Allan Brantley, Atlanta, Georgia: Southern Burgers with Caramelized Vidalias, Fried Green Tomatoes, and Georgia Pecan Chevre
  • Robert Mongeon, Colchester, Vermont: Bourbon Street Burgers
  • Renata Stanko, Lebanon, Oregon: Viva la Bistecca Burgers
  • Gina Wilson, Austin, Texas: Pineapple Upside-Down Jerk Burgers

Other Alternative Burgers Finalists:

  • Kelly Krauss, Clinton, New Jersey: King Salmon Club Burgers with Lemon Mayonnaise and Crispy Bacon
  • Phyllis Krupp, Wellington, Florida: Sesame-Crusted Tuna Burgers with Sweet Napa Slaw and Wasabi-Ginger Mayo
  • Norita Solt, Bettendorf, Iowa: Midwest Pork Loin Burgers with Caramelized Apple-Onion Relish and Quick-n-Easy Sweet BBQ Sauce
  • Olga Esquivel-Holman, Wichita, Kansas: Pistachio Lamb Burgers


James McNair, Head Judge
Pam Anderson
Fran Carpentier
Barbara (Babs) Chernetz
Mark Miller
Cindy Pawlcyn
John Willoughby

Build a Better Burger Contest Winners - 2004

Build a Better Burger

Build a Better Burger Contest Winners - 2004