Build a Better Burger Contest Winners – 2017

Build a Better Burger Contest Winners – 2017

Sutter Home Family Vineyards, creator of the Nation’s longest running burger contest, today announced Lauren Katz of Ashburn, Virginia as the Grand Prize Winner of its annual Build a Better Burger® Recipe Contest, an American tradition since 1990. Sutter Home awarded Katz with a $25,000 cash prize after five culinary judges tasted and deemed her Scampi Prawn Sliders the winner at a live cook-off at the historic Sutter Home Inn in St. Helena. Five regional champions competed at the cook-off, preparing a variety of burgers that spanned from Emily Falke of Santa Barbara’s Mushroom and Fennel Ragout Burger to Tom Doyle of Pittsburg’s Bringin Da Heat! burger. All five semi-finalists received $1,000 cash prizes, but only Katz came home with the enviable life-size check that inspired hundreds of recipe entries throughout the year.

2017 marks Katz’s sixth Build a Better Burger entry. “Winning Build a Better Burger feels amazing. It has been a pipedream of mine for a long time,” Katz said. She remarked on the journey she has undertaken from creating the recipe in her kitchen, to winner her regional cook-off, to cooking for five renowned culinary judges at the national Build a Better Burger finale. “It’s a lot of work that goes into these things, and into this burger, in particular. It’s a tiny little burger, but it’s a big story – it’s a creation,” Katz added.

The live judging panel of five praised her creation as they tasted her sliders and Sutter Home Pinot Grigio wine pairing. Chef Chaz Newton, awarded Best Cheeseburger in San Francisco by 7×7 magazine, applauded her selection, commenting, “I wrote a book about sliders, which states that you can turn any burger into a slider. You proved me right.”

Katz, a self-proclaimed low-key person, had a tearful moment when Sutter Home presented her with her life-size $25,000 check, trophy and medal. Reflecting on the moment, Katz said, “It’s so fun and amazing – It does mean a lot to me. It’s very exciting.”

At the contest and beyond, cooking is and will remain a big part of Katz’s life. She loves cooking because it brings people together and shows how she cares. The judges share her sentiment. Judge Erin Evenson, former Build a Better Burger champion and first home cook to compete on Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen, said, “Bring yourself and what you love to the recipe.”

“Now that the 2017 Build a Better Burger season has come to a close, we’d like to express our appreciation for all those who contributed their creativity and enjoyed Sutter Home wines along the way,” said Brie Baltzell, marketing director for Sutter Home. “We look forward to 2018’s contest, and encourage all to apply.”

Like Sutter Home Family Vineyards, Build a Better Burger is an American tradition and the embodiment of the American Dream. For additional information on the contest or to access past Sutter Home Build a Better Burger recipes, along with wine pairing suggestions, visit

Build a Better Burger Winners

Grand Prize Winner
Recipe: Scampi Prawn Sliders with Blistered Tomatoes and Lemon Pesto Aioli
Wine Pairing: Sutter Home Pinot Grigio
Created by: Lauren Katz, Ashburn, VA

Second Place
Recipe: Crunchy Ramen Burger
Wine Pairing: Sutter Home Pinot Grigio
Created by: Lu Holter, Hudson, WI

Third Place
Recipe: Lake-To-Lake Lamb Burger
Wine Pairing: Sutter Home Red Blend
Created by: Sherry Ricci, Mendon, NY

Build a Better Burger Contest Winners - 2015

Build a Better Burger

Build a Better Burger Contest Winners - 2015