2011 Burger Battle in the books August 17 2011, 4 Comments

Hey there - It's Jeremy Kossler, co-founder of the Denver Burger Battle.

With us only getting to see each other once a year, I wanted to see if we could find a way to talk more often. As it is, I miss out on getting to tell a bunch of fun stories that happen along the way: Disasters averted, cheating scandals, creative successes, and of course, tales of the 70+ burgers we try along the way to getting to the final 12 and the event in August.

My goal is to give you a glimpse inside what it takes to put on something like this. It can be a crazy ride.  If you're one of the insane who are inspired enough to put an event on yourself, you can count on my support.

For this entry, a few notes about the recently-completed 2011 Denver Burger Battle:

- I cannot think about this year's event without salivating. The burgers were outrageously good. In my opinion, stronger overall than last year. It's funny, during the 2010 event, I had practically nothing to eat, and months later I was kicking myself. "I love burgers!" I thought, "why wouldn't I try all of them when I had the chance??" This year turned out similarly. I had like 4 tastes of burgers the whole night. It turns out that when I'm nervous and excited, I suddenly lose my appetite. But the 4 tastes I had were ridiculously good. I tried TAG, Parkburger, Elways, and Euclid Hall. All pretty damn phenomenal.

- I liked the band ("Jay-KOH"), and heard a lot of good feedback about them. A little loud volume-wise, but I thought they sounded great and I'm a sucker for covers of radio hits. Have already gotten calls about them for other charity events coming up.

- One of the chefs from the Berkshire caught his hair on fire while cooking over the grill. Pretty sure he's ok.

- Beer and wine. Oh the beer and wine... I have to say we were totally shocked that we ran out an hour before the event ended. In the end, it is my fault. Should have asked for more. It's a tricky deal with the small, indie breweries we all love. Since they're small and numbers are watched closely, they're really strong in asking that we not forecast more than we need. From their perspective, every keg donated is a keg they can't sell. So, we forecasted based on how much the avg attendee drank last year, thinking it would give us an accurate picture. Not so. Not so at all. You guys came to party. My fault, guys - we blew it. We'll tighten it up next year, I can promise you that.

- Mikey from Alice 105.9 told a story on air the next morning of asking one of the restaurant staff on a date during the event.  He slipped her a note, saying "Do you want to go out for a night of awkward slow dancing? Check yes or no".  Later, our emcee, Howie, came back to get her answer.  Not only was it "NO!", but she dogged his clever approach: "what is he - 12 years old!"  Poor Mikey. 

- Happy as hell for Parkburger. The owner has become a friend and I know he was gearing up for the challenge of cooking 200 perfect eggs for that Croque Burger. He totally pulled it off. Every piece I saw had that perfectly cooked yolk just oozing out of it. That's personally my favorite burger on their menu.

- Hat's off to Highland Tap as well. They arrived to find a grill much smaller than the one I originally ordered for them and didn't complain one bit. Took it in stride and put out some of the best burgers of the night. That's professional. Not many know this, but months ago, it came down to Shannahan's and Highland Tap for the final spot. I was over the moon thinking how great it would be to promote Elway's vs Shannahan's. But... once we tried the Shanny's burger, it was good - not amazing. Next day we re-tried the burger at Highland Tap and even though they were a much smaller name, and we'd lose the cool promotional angle, we just loved the burger. Had to put them in. Glad we did.

- Finally, I have to think one of the biggest winners of the night was Crave. For a restaurant who's closest navigational point is "the outlet mall in Castle Rock", they killed it Wednesday night. They got 98 votes from people who are super familiar with our other competitors, and had never heard of Crave. They were one vote away from 2nd place, and 6 votes from taking home the trophy. For months, they talked about how they were going to bring it - lots of pressure on them to deliver and they did. If the owner were to open another Crave in Denver next week, I think he'd find a whole bunch of new fans waiting for their doors to open.