World Burger Championship Wrap Up, 2015
[NOV 2015] Rusty Johnson won the 2015 World Burger Championship and took home $10,000 in prize money after winning the burger cook-off category at the World Food Championships, in Celebration, FL.
Johnson, a professional BBQ competitor and caterer, from Port Moody, British Columbia, beat out 38 teams who turned in burgers, including two-time Burger Champion, Wade Fortin.
In addition to winning the burger title, Johnson placed third in the Final Table, an event where winners from each of the WFC’s nine cook-off categories vie for the big prize of $100,000.
Other Burger Winners
Sandi Sheppard (Norman,OK), won second place, and last year’s winner and two-time Burger Champ, Wade Fortin (Chicago), took third.
Keep reading to find out more about the winning burgers
How the Burger Championships Work
Winning the World Burger Championship is about more than creating one great burger. It is about creating a series of great burgers. The WFC’s burger event tests this, with each competitor cooking three different burgers with different requirements for each.
To even compete at the World Burger Championship, teams qualify by placing in a WFC local, regional, international or online qualifying event.
Once at the Burger Championship, all competitors cook two burgers — their signature burger and a “structured build” that utilizes specific ingredients. For this year’s structured build, burger cooks created patty melts using patties from an event sponsor, Bubba Burger.
Entries were judged on taste (50%), execution (35%) and appearance (15%). Scores for both burgers are averaged and the 10 cooks with the top scores move on to the finals, where chefs create a burger with an “infused” ingredient.
Rusty Johnson’s signature burger was clearly a winner, scoring near the top in the round. He topped his beef patty with aged Canadian Cheddar, and then added white truffle aioli, savory onion jam, and deep-fried balls of spicy red pepper goat’s cheese coated in panko. He topped the whole creation with a drizzle of honey and red pepper flakes, and served it on a Brioche bun.
Beach Party Pallet BBQ Patty Melt — Sandi Sheppard
A graphic artist, Sandi Sheppard discovered the world of competition cooking in 2010, and quickly became hooked on creating out-of-the-box gastronomical delights for all types of cooking contests including hamburgers.
Sponsored by Maple Leaf Farms, each of her burgers contained an element of duck. Of her three burgers, Sheppard scored the highest with her patty melt, this years structured-build burger style. The double Cheddar burger on rye scored taste points with its chipotle-onion BBQ sauce and a roasted brussel sprouts, cream cheese & duck bacon-garlic spread.
The Conquistador — Wade Fortin
Fortin also scored highest with his patty melt. Called The Conquistador, the roasted garlic New York Cheddar Patty Melt came with a tarragon aioli, sweet and spicy bread and butter pickles, candied bacon, balsamic glazed shallots, and a port wine gastrique, served on fresh sourdough.
Fortin said he was disappointed with his score and wants to reclaim his title, but was uncertain if he could compete since he will be taking a new marketing job with Bull, a WFC sponsor. “I guess I have a year to iron that out,” Fortin said.
The Finals — Citrus? In a Burger?
At the finals, the Top 10 have to cook one more burger — any recipe they wish, as long as it contains the “infused ingredient.” This year, apropos of Florida, the infused ingredient was citrus.
Johnson, seeded second going into the finals, admits that the citrus was a hard ingredient. He said his strategy for dealing with it was to go outside the box.
“I thought I might see a lot of Mexican flavor profiles, or BBQ sauce ones. I also knew that citrus being so strong, was an ingredient you could easily mess up your burger with. I tried to apply more lemon zest than juice in an attempt to keep the acidity down. I wanted it to be fresh but not over the top with bite.
I feel I played it more safe in my flavor profile than I’m used to. I usually go for a smack in the mouth of flavor so was a little worried after I turned it in,” he said. However, Johnson’s high-scoring structured citrus burger pushed him over the top.