At Copper Mountain, restaurants compete for title of best burger
If you go
What: Colorado Burger Summit
When: Saturday, July 25
2-5 p.m. — Burger tasting
2 p.m. — Live music from Beau Thomas
3:30 p.m. — Live music from Euforquestra
4:45 p.m. — Winners announced
Where: Copper Mountain Ski Resort
Cost: General admission is free; $30 VIP tickets include unlimited burgers and three beers; $1 Burger Bucks also available, with most burgers costing three to 10 Bucks
More information: Visit http://www.coppercolorado.com for advance tickets
• C.B. Grille, Copper Mountain
• Endo’s Adrenaline Café, Copper Mountain
• Incline Bar & Grill, Copper Mountain
• Jack’s Slopeside Grill, Copper Mountain
• JJ’s Rocky Mountain Tavern, Copper Mountain
• Jill’s Umbrella Bar, Copper Mountain
• Storm King Lounge, Copper Mountain
• Stuft Burger Bar, Fort Collins
This weekend’s Colorado Burger Summit at Copper Mountain is one of about 50 qualifying events around the world that pit grill masters against one another to see who stacks up the best version of this American favorite. Winners move on to the World Burger Championship in Kissimmee, Florida, in November, where a champ is crowned and given the title of World’s Best Burger.
From 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, burger connoisseurs are invited to stroll participating restaurant booths in Copper’s base area, sample the delectable dishes and vote for their favorites, while music from Beau Thomas and Euforquestra serenades their taste buds.
Billy Charters, head chef at Stuft Burger Bar, will be traveling all the way from Fort Collins to put his burger creation up against the other chefs — all of whom hold down kitchens around Copper Mountain. Stuft owners Jake Fitzsimmons and Tiffany Helton hired Charters to pursue a specific goal at their establishment.
“Jake and Tiffany, they are always telling me to elevate the burger, see how far you can take a burger, not necessarily by adding as many items as you can,” he said. “Jake feels like, and I think he’s right, a burger can match any other meal in flavor, quality, texture, anything else.”
In that vein, Charters didn’t hold back when he and his team came up with an entry for the Burger Summit — a chorizo slider.
“It’s not a normal slider I would serve in the restaurant,” he said. “It’s on a cauliflower croquette with roasted corn succotash, a chorizo patty made in house, aged white cheddar, a poached quail egg and sweet-pepper hollandaise. It’s a fun burger. We’ve been doing some events lately, and it’s given us a chance to mess around with things we don’t normally do in the restaurant, to see how high we can take our burger, and this is one of the ones we came up with.”
Charters said burgers are so popular because they are fairly simple and pretty much anyone can knock one out on a backyard grill. Turning it into a competition allows chefs to stretch their culinary muscles and adds another element to the fun and, for Charters, a bit of validation for his work.
“I know how much we can do and how much is possible, and I want to show Jake and Tiffany that it was all worth it, everything they’re doing here, everything that I’m doing here,” he said. “Winning the event would be a good way for that to pay off.”
Chance at fame
This is the first year that Copper has co-hosted the Burger Summit with Asheville, North Carolina-based All American Food Fights, and the two organizations decided to go with a democratic voting style rather than a judges’ panel, said Kelly Denson, executive producer of the event.
“We’ll probably add judges down the road, but sometimes the restaurants are more excited about people’s choice, rather than a judge award,” Denson said. “You’ve now created fans out of them. There’s a loyalty that develops because they have voted for you.”
When the Copper winner moves on to the nationally-televised World Burger Championships, he or she will face three rounds of competition, after which point the ultimate burger chef squares off against the victors in eight other categories, from barbecue and chili to pasta, seafood and desserts, for the title of World Food Champion.
“The winner of the World Burger Championship wins $10,000, and the winner of the World Food Championships wins $100,000,” Denson said. “You get to walk away saying your burger is the best in the world, according to the World Food Championships. It’s a pretty high-level event; there’s thousands of people.”
Along with the prestige, scoring a best-burger moniker on an international stage has the potential to boost business for the winning restaurant, she said, using as an example last year’s winner of Asheville’s WNC Battle of the Burger event.
“There was a write-up about them because their kitchen was expanding, and the writer asked, ‘What kind of spurred this?’” Denson said. “They were more of a bar with a very tiny kitchen before, but, since the burger battle, they won 15th place in the world, and it really elevated their profile all around. They sell five times as many burgers as they did before the event.”
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