With the National Hamburger Festival approaching quickly, the marketing department decided to enter our Black Angus Superburger in the “Best Traditional Burger” category. But I so love the American Grill that I decided to enter it into the “Best Creative Burger” category.
At an assigned time, three of each burger was to be delivered to the judges’ tent. The Black Angus Superburger was the first up at 11:45 am. I prepared the burgers and rushed them to the judges’ tent in the hopes of keeping them as fresh and hot as possible. I got to the assigned location only to find that the tent had been moved! None of the festival workers could agree as to the new location of the tent. I had to get my entries there hot and I had to get them there on time. Mere minutes later I found the tent, handed over my creations and rushed back to our concession area to prepare the American Grill for the 12:15 judging.
Standing over the hot grill, I quickly found that evenly grilling the egg bread on our rented and hard- to- regulate grills was not going to be an easy task, and I only had enough ingredients to make six American Grills. Three had to be perfect for judging. The patties cooked nicely and the vegetables were sautéed to perfection but the bread for the first two burgers burned almost immediately upon hitting the grill. More stress! Happily, I was able to grill three perfect sets of egg bread for the burgers, assemble them, and get them to the judges’ table right on-time.
My work was done. It was now time to slow down and enjoy the festival. As I walked “hamburger row” with my wife Sarah, I got my first real look at the competition. There were some local favorites like Carvers and Louie’s, but some national competition as well. There was White Castle, Quaker Steak and Lube, Steak ‘n Shake, Fatburger, and Big Boy to name a few. Half way down “hamburger row,” I stopped at a souvenir stand and purchased a National Hamburger Festival hat. I joked with the woman in the stand that if I didn’t win, I was bringing the hat back. Confident in the quality of the burgers I had served, I placed the hat on my head and continued my walk down “hamburger row.”
I am proud to share with you that by the end of the day the Black Angus Superbuger was awarded the second place silver award for the “Best Traditional Burger”. But what I am most proud of is that the old family recipe from The Pub, the American Grill, was awarded the first place gold medal as the “Most Creative Burger.”
I’d like to thank Kevin Wall from our Cuyahoga Falls restaurant for cooking, as well as the rest of our Ohio restaurant team members for their role in our success at the Festival. I am really looking forward to defending our titles in 2009. And I am sure that between now and next July, John and I can come up with another winning flavor combination. In the meantime, stop in at any Eat’n Park, try both of our delicious burgers, and award your own gold medal.
If you would like to learn more about the National Hamburger Festival, please visit www.hamburgerfestival.com
Until next time,