Build a Better Burger Contest Winners – 2012
After taking the BBB Cook-Off on the road to Miami Beach (2010) and Chicago (2011), a spectacular May day under bright blue skies welcomed the event back home to Napa Valley. The lush gardens of Sutter Home’s Victorian Inn in St. Helena put on a showy burst of full bloom for the occasion, and a springtime palate of pale blue and off-white adorned everything from the table coverings to the judges’ shirts.
Since its inception in 1990, the BBB Cook-Off had been held at the end of September or early October. The decision to move the event to the week before the Memorial Day weekend’s unofficial opening of grilling season made it necessary to forgo staging a Cook-Off during 2012, so the Cook-Off for the 2012 BBB Recipe Contest was moved to May of 2013.
Except for the anxious competing cooks, the mood of the day was very relaxed. Guests visited a garden flower-bedecked buffet to pick up hot-off-the-grill versions of the 10 competing recipes, as prepared by the Trinchero Family Estates culinary crew, headed by Culinary Director/Executive Chef James Houghton and Build a Better Burger’s Culinary Director Jeff Starr. Trinchero Pastry Chef Jenny Contreras created a stunning array of tiny “burgers” from espresso macaroons sandwiching chocolate ganache patties along with caramel corn, bite-sized cupcakes, and chocolate truffles.
While guests enjoyed their burger sampling and marking ballots for their favorites, the Cook-Off Judges onstage were served perfectly timed burgers cooked by the competing home cooks, who remained on stage to answer questions and hear critiques of their creations.
When the judging was completed, Head Judge and BBB Honorary Chairman James McNair welcomed the finalists back to the stage and handed an envelope containing the winners’ names to Trinchero Family Estates President Bob Torkelson to announce the prizewinners. This year the crowd and judges did not agree on the winners.
In the Alternative Burgers category, the People’s Choice award of $2,500 went to Kim Jones for her Better than Breakfast in Bed pork burgers, while Mark Richardson’s Indian Lamb Burgers won the $15,000 award as the Best Alternative Burger. Mark Pyne received the $2,500 People’s Choice award in the Beef Burgers category for his Grilled Green Tomato Burgers, and an extremely excited Evin Evenson walked away with the Grand Prize of $100,000 for her 7 Train Caramelized Green Curry Burgers.
Sutter Home staff members screened several thousand recipes during the summer and sent the qualified recipes to the five members of the Culinary Review Panel, comprised of Brenda Bosetti , Marilyn Costa, Liccet Guzman, Jill Hunting, and BBB Culinary Director Jeffrey Starr, who selected their favorite recipes. The panel met as a group and narrowed the favorites down to 15 beef burgers and 15 alternative burgers. During a two-day preliminary Cook-Off, the Culinary Review Panel 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): Erin Evenson, Brooklyn, New York: 7 Train Caramelized Green Curry Burgers
- Grand Prize (Beef Burgers) People’s Choice Award: Mark Pyne, Sheboygan, Wisconsin: Grilled Green Tomato Burgers
- Grand Prize (Beef Burgers) First Runner-Up: Mark Pyne, Sheboygan, Wisconsin: Grilled Green Tomato Burgers
- Grant Prize (Beef Burgers) Second Runner-Up: Jeanette Nowak, Spring, Texas: Razzle Dazzle Burgers
- Best Alternative Burgers Prize: Mark Richardson, Snohomish, Washington: Indian Lamb Burgers
- Alternative Burgers People’s Choice Award: Kim Jones, Bloomingdale, Illinois: Better than Breakfast in Bed Burgers
- Alternative Burgers First Runner-Up: Helen Mariscal, Artesia, New Mexico: Lemon-Scented “Salmon-icious” Burgers
- Alternative Burgers Second Runner-Up: Cheryl Lundquist, Wake Forest, North Carolina: Lamb Burgers with Mango Chutney Mayo and Minted Romaine
Other Grand Prize (Beef Burgers) Finalists
- Sharron Pinheiro, Macomb, Michigan: Kickin’ Brunch Burgers
- Katie Sherrill, Edmonds, Washington: Korean-Hawaiian Taco Truck Burgers
Other Alternative Burgers Finalist
- Kathy Keithline, Parker, Colorado Smoky Sweet Salmon Sliders
- James McNair, Head Judge
- Jennifer Beckman
- Katie Chin
- Kevin Kolman
- Steven Raichlen