El Toro Burger
Second City Smoke took the title for their El Toro burger, a porcini butter-stuffed ribeye steak cheeseburger on a toasted brioche bun, with with candied cracked black pepper bacon, crispy fried onions, spicy bread and butter pickles, an A.1. horseradish aioli, and a sweet port wine reduction.
A.1. Fried Onion Burger
Cypress Street did the best job celebrating the flavor of A.1. Below the beef patty, a slice of tomato was swimming in southern barbecue sauce made with bacon, apple juice, peach beer, and A1 steak sauce. They lost me with the bun, though. It was too hard and too dense to get a proper bite.
A.1. Asian Burger
Dietricha Durtschi put forth this ramen burger with a pork and beef patty topped with shredded cabbage, mandarin orange slices, Bermuda onions, and an A.1. and wasabi aioli. I'm guessing the mandarin oranges were a last-minute addition, seeing as Dole was giving away free samples at the event, but even if they were always intended to be there, it wasn't a smart move. Adding the juice-soaked citrus segments made the burger skew way too sweet.
The Cajun Burger
Jeffery Boudreaux's entry featured a ground chuck and Italian sausage patty mixed with bread crumbs, Parmesan, and bacon, topped with cheddar cheese and some awesome pickles on a squishy ciabatta bun. The one thing keeping it from being the run-away winner (at least as far as I'm concerned) was the size of the patty. It was too small, meaning my first few bites were bun and toppings only.
Vegas Jackpot Steakhouse Burger
Done right, a surf and turf burger could totally be awesome, but I couldn't get behind the goopy crab salad on top of this onion-bunned burger from Mark Levasseur. This burger received the lowest score from me (4s, across the board).
A.1. Default Burger
The Porketeers put for this 80/20 beef patty topped with portobello mushrooms, thick-cut bacon blanched in A1 steak sauce, and horseradish cheddar cheese on a potato bun.
Mushroom Swiss Marsala Burger
Helene Mulvihill created this fried onion, mushroom, and marsala wine sauce-topped burger.
'Eh. One.' Candied Canuck Burger
Food Gypsy's entry featured a patty that was a mix of hanger steak, sirloin and short rib, topped with A1 steak sauce, Canadian cheddar, and Canadian bacon. Some of the flavors were good, but I couldn't get past how overworked and overcooked the patty was.
Thanksgiving Turkey Burger with A.1. Gravy
I appreciated the creativity of Brad Leighninger's entry, but I wouldn't call it a burger. The patty, made from ground turkey and andouille sausage with cornbread stuffing, turkey stock, rosemary, sage, and cranberry sauce, didn't hold together, so the meat was too free-form and crumbly. The bread choice (a baguette) also meant this entry would be way more at home in the sandwich, not burger, competition.
Burger on Texas Toast
The Burger Deacon's patty featured a blend of hot breakfast sausage and ground beef, topped with bacon, Worcestershire, A.1. and jalapeños for a spicy kick. Had the toast been crunchier, this burger might have won my vote for the best overall burger. As served, it tied for second place (with the overall winner) on my scorecard.