Build a Better Burger Contest Winners – 2009

Build a Better Burger Contest Winners – 2009

For the second consecutive year, the temperature in Napa Valley soared to over 100 degrees on the day of Build a Better Burger’s 19th Cook-Off. And the competition on the lawn of the Sutter Home Victorian Inn was even hotter!

Anthony Torres, Principal and Senior Vice President Administration of Trinchero Family Estates, welcomed the invited guests gathered under the big tent. Wendy Nyberg, TFE Senior Director of Marketing, announced the news that BBB would be doubling the Grand Prize money for 2010, making the contest the highest paying annual cooking contest in America!

James McNair, BBB’s Honorary Chairman and Head Judge, introduced his fellow wine-country judges, and then welcomed each finalist, one at a time, to the stage. After passing their hot-off-the-grill burgers to the judges, contestants answered questions and heard comments from the judges. After leaving the stage, each finalist prepared another round of their burgers for a select group of guests who marked ballots for the People’s Choice awards.

Cook-Off attendees feasted on slider-sized burgers made from past BBB finalists’ recipes and side dishes that will be featured in Burger Parties, a new cookbook by James McNair and Jeffrey Starr that will be published to salute the 20th anniversary of the contest in 2010. And almost everyone enjoyed more than one visit to the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream wagon for a cooling respite from the hot sun.

After the scores were tallied, Roger Trinchero, Vice Chairman and CEO of Trinchero Family Estates, joined his nephew Anthony Torres in welcoming all of the finalists back to the stage. James McNair announced the winners, who were presented with checks and the distinctive and coveted BBB trophies created by wine-country artist Cynthia Hipkiss.

Naylett LaRochelle of Miami was selected by the judges as winner of the $10,000 prize for Best Alternative Burgers for her Miami “Frita” Chicken-Chorizo Burgers, while Anthony Czech of Decatur, Georgia captured the $2,500 People’s Choice award for his Crunchy Coconut Shrimp Burgers.

In another split decision, Suzanne Banfield from Basking Ridge, New Jersey captured the $50,000 Grand Prize with her Roman Patty Melts, and Patrice Hurd of Bemidgi, Minnesota garnered the $2,500 People’s Choice prize for her Spanish-inspired Burgers La Mancha.

Later in the afternoon, Suzanne headed to New York City to prepare for a Monday morning appearance on NBC’s Today Show.


Sutter Home staff members screened about 3,000 recipes during the summer and sent over 1,000 qualified recipes to Head Judge James McNair and his culinary associate, Andrew Moore, who selected their favorite recipes. They were joined by Sutter Home’s Culinary Director and Executive Chef, Jeffrey Starr, Sutter Home chefs James Houghton and Matthew Bennett, and Sutter Home’s Marketing Event Manager, Michele Ashby, to narrow the field to 15 recipes in each category. During a two-day preliminary Cook-Off, the group chose five finalists in each of the two categories.

Cook-Off Event Manager

Michele Ashby, Marketing Event Manager, Sutter Home Winery


  • Grand Prize (Beef Burgers): Suzanne Banfield, Basking Ridge, New Jersey: Roman Patty Melts with Balsamic Peppers and Onions and Sun-dried Tomato Aïoli
  • Grand Prize (Beef Burgers) First Runner-Up: Julie Hession, Las Vegas, NV: Blue Corn Desert Oasis Burgers with Cactus-Corn Salsa, Ancho-Honey Bacon, and Pepita Guacamole
  • Grand Prize (Beef Burgers) Second Runner-Up: Rick Rohr, Darien, Connecticut: Jezebel Burgers with Sweet-and-Sassy Shallots
  • Grand Prize (Beef Burgers) People’s Choice Award:  Patrice Hurd, Bemidgi, Minnesota: Burgers La Mancha with Sweet Caramelized Reds and Smoky Olive Aïoli
  • Best Alternative Burgers Prize: Naylett LaRochelle, Miami, Florida: Miami “Frita” Chicken-Chorizo Burgers with Guava Ketchup, Black Bean and Sweet Pimento Relish, and Crispy Shoestring Potatoes
  • Alternative Burgers First Runner-Up: Amy Green, Carrollton, Texas: Farmers’ Market Burgers with Grilled Red Onion Relish and Peppered Tomato Mayonnaise
  • Alternative Burgers Second Runner-Up: Patterson Watkins, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Dutch Biscuit Sliders with Quick Apple Chow-Chow and Spicy Bacon Mustard
  • Alternative Burgers People’s Choice Award: Anthony Czech, Decatur, Georgia: Crunchy Coconut Shrimp Burgers with Asian Slaw

Other Grand Prize (Beef Burgers) Finalist

  • Jana Atwood, Boise, Idaho: Cool as a Cucumber Slaw Burgers with Dill-Feta Spread and Crispy Potato Pancakes

Other Alternative Burgers Finalist

  • Teresa Ralston, New Albany, Ohio: Spice-Crusted Pork Burgers with Crispy Brown Sugar Bacon, Maple Apple Chutney, and Smoked Cheddar


James McNair, Head Judge
Sondra Bernstein
Hugh Carpenter
Teri Sandison
Scott Warner

Build a Better Burger Contest Winners - 2008

Build a Better Burger

Build a Better Burger Contest Winners - 2008