When Burger Beast Sef Gonzalez asked me to be a judge at the third annual Burgie Awards, I said sure. I've judged a few competitions. They're usually fun, you get a badge, and you meet some new people. When you're asked to oversee a burger competition, you naturally assume you'll be tasting burgers. What I didn't realize was how many.
Twenty-two burgers. Reading the email from Gonzalez was a little surreal. "You will be sampling 22 burgers for 2 different categories. Your votes will help decide the Best Burger 2011 and Best Food Truck Burger 2011. You will receive a burger to sample every 5 minutes so prepare yourselves and if you've got stretchy pants it might be the right time to wear them, just kidding." Awesome!
All photos by Laine Doss
At the Burgies, the rules were simple. A team of seven judges, including bloggers 954 Burger Boi,
Steve of Blind Tastes,
and the Chowfather,
would get a burger about every five minutes, as promised. We obviously
wouldn't know which burger came from which restaurant/food truck. Each
meat sandwich would be rated on a scale from 1 to 7.
Out of many...this classic burger stood out.
The first burger arrived. It was a classic bacon cheeseburger. Nicely
charred and large. The strategy to stay in the game: pacing and taking
only a few bites. A few minutes later came the second, and then the
third. Some burgers were good, some OK, and a few were heinous (that's when
the anonymity of the burger was really appreciated).
The burgers kept coming. One had too much barbecue sauce. A pork
creation tasted of Asian influences. Another reminded me of the Lipton onion soup burgers that Mom thought were so creative. One restaurant
shocked us all with a seafood burger. Not that it was bad -- just
Twelve burgers, fifteen burgers -- most of the judges were troopers.
One judge looked like he was about to drop. Another was sweating. I got a meat
headache. At burger 17, I saw little brown spots before my eyes. We kept
Stakes were high. This was more than a burger-judging
competition; this was a Kilimanjaro climb, a marathon. This was a test
The last burger was received with a round of applause. Providing we got
through a few bites, we had made it. Bite, chew, done.
It was a long
evening. After the ballots were tallied and the awards were announced,
it was good to see the winners so happy. As for me, I'll stick to a normal one-burger-per-sitting rule -- at least until next year.
Here's the full list of winners:
Best Burger - People's Choice: Burger & Beer Joint
Best Burger: Burger & Beer Joint
Best Specialty Burger: The Foreman - Pincho Factory
Best Non-Traditional Burger: Bulgogi Burger - Sakaya Kitchen
Best Hot Dog: Dogma Grill
Best Fries: Charm City Burger Company
Best Mac n' Cheese: Prime 112
Best Frita: El Rey De Las Fritas
Best Croqueta: Islas Canarias
Best Pincho: Daddy's Grill
Best Pizza Joint: Andiamo's
Best Sandwich: Blue & Bacon Grilled Cheese - Ms. Cheezious
Best BBQ Joint: Bulldog BBQ
Best Dessert: Sweetness Bakeshop & Cafe
Best Onion Rings: Burger & Beer Joint
Best Bistec ala Milanesa: Luis Galindo's Latin American
Best Pasteles: Karla Bakery
Best Taco: El Jefe Luchador
Best Food Truck: Ms. Cheezious
Best Food Truck Burger - People's Choice: Latin House Grill
Best Food Truck Burger: gastroPod
Burger and Beer Joint: People's favorite and judge's favorite.
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Burger Beast, Sef Gonzalez, and Sugar Yummy Mama's Giselle Pinto at the Burgies