I felt like a kid on Christmas morning when I woke up today.
Knowing I would be a judge at the 2013 Best Memphis Burger Fest had that effect on me. I had already picked out what I was wearing, made sure my camera batteries were charged and knew the directions to Minglewood Hall where BMBF13 was being held.
I washed down half of a Gibson’s cinnamon roll with some coffee and paced around the apartment as I waited for Tammy to get ready. The more I waited, the more nervous I got.
When I get nervous I have to pee and I went twice before we left the apartment then again as soon as we got to Minglewood Hall.
We had arrived about 45 minutes before Seth (aka Mr. Best Memphis Burger) said I needed to be at the judges tent and I peed two times before I got my judges pass.
The smells coming from the parking lot were unbelievable. It was like a giant tailgating party with tents set up every few feet and smoke billowing from every grill.
I headed over to the judges tent and found a spot at a table in the far back corner. I was judging in the Anything But Beef category, which wasn’t the same thing as Vegetarian.
Other judges starting coming in and two girls ended up sitting at my table.
They explained the scoring and said we would each be getting four burgers. For a few seconds I thought I was going to be getting FIVE burgers because there were so many entries, but only ended up with four.
Once everyone at the table had four burgers we could open our boxes and start judging.
I opened my first boxed and peered inside. It was a crab cake burger with BBQ potato chips on it. Part of it was falling out of the bun so I had to scoop it up in order to stop it from spilling completely out, all of which resulted in a loss of presentation points. It had a really good taste and was definitely something I would eat again.
While I was inspecting, eating and judging my crab cake, the girl next to me had dug into her first box, taken a bite and wasn’t feeling too good. She was sitting there with her hand over her mouth, staring blankly ahead. The other girl at the table asked if she was OK.
She shook her head, her hand still covering her mouth, jumped up, stood in the grass behind us and threw up.
We stood there watching her, offering to help as she ridded herself of the bite. She sat back down, apologized profusely to us and the judging officials, saying she’s never done that before.
They asked if she was OK to continue judging and, to her credit, she plowed through her remaining boxes without any problems. She said the only thing she could think of was that she didn’t like the consistency. That’s really all she said about it.
She had eaten out of Box #1, which was also sitting in front of me. As if I wasn’t already nervous enough…
The presentation inside the second box was amazing. I only wish I had thought about taking pictures of my boxes.
The top of the bun had a portabella mushroom covered in marinara sauce. The bottom of the bun was almost like a meatball with a thick layer of mozzarella cheese. I put the two sides together and dug in.
Little did I know it, but it was definitely the best of my four options. There were so many layers of flavor that I had to make myself NOT eat more of it.
My third box was a spicy falafel inside of a pita with feta cheese and tzatziki sauce. It was spicier than I expected but had good enough flavor that I actually took TWO bites.
I saved Box #1 for last. The box contained three turkey burger sliders. I grabbed one, inspected it and nervously took a bite, hoping it wouldn’t make me puke.
The turkey patty was tender, but didn’t have a lot of flavor. All I could taste was the bacon under the patty, but the bacon wasn’t crisp at all. It was way undercooked and the fatty part of the bacon was stringy. Even though it didn’t made me sick, I could see how it could have.
We were told we could take our leftovers with us, something I had been wondering about all week, and of course I took mine with me.
Even though I was done, I didn’t want to leave and stuck around to watch the rest of the judging, the kids pickle eating and the Kookamonga eating contests.
Kids 12 and under lined up and the first ones to eat all three pickles won trophies.
The Extreme Burgers
The Kookamunga Challenge
Teams of two tackled the 4-pound Kookamunger burger from the Kooky Canuck.
- AS Martin & Buns
- Burgers Elevan
- U.S. Foods
- Meat in the Middle
Anything But Beef
- Pirates of the Grillabean
- Burgers Elevan
- Blood, Sweat and Beef
- Beef Street Flippa’s
Best Memphis Burger
Unfortunately I have no way of knowing if any of the four Anything But Beef burgers I ate finished in the Top 3.
But in the end it doesn’t really matter because I had a blast. I was so honored to have been asked to be a judge after having been in the area since February. I hope to be invited back in 2014 and for years to come.