Fresh Ingredients + Child’s Creativity and Imagination = Ten Awesome Burgers!
This morning, I was honored to serve as a judge for the 5th Annual Red Robin Kids’ Cook-Off. The panel of judges included actress Anna Sophia Robb (17-year-old star of upcoming film “Soul Surfer” with Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt), Tom Giesen (executive producer of the Food Network’s Unwrapped) my new BFF the fabulously effervescent Nancy McBride (National Safety Director for National Center for Missing and Exploited Children), Eric Houseman, President and COO, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, and fun Frances Hill (THANK YOU for the tips on what water does to burger buns in your belly).
The finalists were chosen from thousands of entries around the country. Each contestant “built” and then presented their gourmet creations for judging. This was hard! We tasted every burger and had to judge on things like creativity, presentation, taste…. and they were all quite amazing!
The winning Burgermeister was the charming 12-year-old Donovan Duggins from Wichita, Kansas. His “Mt. Vesuvius Burger” will be sold in all U.S. Red Robin® restaurants in summer 2011. Donovan’s “Lava Sauce” (made from sweet BBQ sauce, hot sauce, garlic powder and paprika) was the perfect combination of “sweet, with a kick”. The sauce,crumbled blue cheese, bacon, and provolone cheese, topped a beef patty and was served on a sesame seed bun. This burger was tasty and creative, with a name (chosen because Donovan loves geography… hello, little lesson in a burger!) that will likely have had the marketing team jumping out of their seats ready to get the “Lava” flowing tomorrow. Oh, what I would do to be part of that!
Next summer, when you order the “Mt. Vesuvius Burger” at all Red Robin restaurants, 50 cents of your purchase will support the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s (NCMEC) child safety efforts. To date Red Robin has raised $400,000 in partnership with NCMEC , and 50% of that figure is attributed specifically to the the annual kid’s cook-off. I love that this competition gave kids an opportunity to be creative, to hone their presentations kills, and benefits an amazing organization at the same time.
The top 10 kid finalists were:
- Zack Caison, Amarillo, TX: “Jalapeno Blue Ranch Bacon Burger”
- Gavin Belliveau, Kingston, MA: “The Meatball Burger”
- Malia Grant, Fresno, CA: “Tropical Hawaiian Turkey Burger”
- Isabel Honzay, Chandler, AZ: “Southwest Cobb Burger”
- Megan Casteel, Mesa, AZ: “Gorgonzola Goodness Burger”
- Emily Whitaker, Tualatin, OR: “The Bacon Dill Delight Burger”
- Angela Feltz, Portland, OR: “The Bangin’ Spicy Chicken Artichoke Burger”
- Dominic Staiti, Citrus Heights, CA: “Jalapeno Cornbread Chili Burger”
- Jake Tucker, Chesterfield, MO: “Campfire Burger”
- Donovan Duggins, Wichita, KS: “The Mt. Vesuvius Burger”
I was really impressed by Red Robin’s embrace of social media in this event. I love that they engaged blogger/social media correspondents in each of the finalists’ cities and streamed a live webcast of the entire competition. The tweets, dm’s, messages, questions and comments that came my way this morning were fun and a very cool example of how powerful word of mouth is.
Are you a burger lover? What are your favorite ingredients?*In accordance with FTC regulations: I was not compensated for this content but I was stuffed full of some mighty fine burgers. I also received a gift bag with various Red Robin chatchkis and a Red Robin gift card. All opinions and details in the above post are my own based on my experiences. Burgers Rock, that is all.