The spirit of competition and community took hold of Downtown Baton Rouge once again as 10 restaurants from the area battled for the title of Best Burger in Downtown Baton Rouge.
Brickyard South opened its doors to chefs, judges and spectators all looking for the same thing. For two and a half hours, chefs cooked outside on trailers or miniature grills as the judges put their burgers up against a critical scoring system.
The five burger evaluators scored the burgers based on the following: buns, dress, extras, cheese, meats and condiments. Each category received a score of one through five for a maximum total of 30 points per judge. The judges were not told what burger came from which restaurant until after judging all dishes equally.
One-by-one, five burgers would come out, and the panel, comprised of bloggers, chefs and business owners, began to make their opinions heard. Comments on the soggyness of the buns or the lack of effort by having a pre-made patty were repeated through the night. The judges did find some burgers impressive for their additions of shrimp, bacon or correct seasoning as well as presentation effort.
As the judges consumed and gave commentary on the burgers, the spectators were given finger foods such as egg rolls and meat pies to snack on. Many were displeased that they themselves weren’t able to partake in the same experience as the judges, but found solace in the idea of new places to go for a burger.
By the first hour, the bar was full on the inside and the back patio. Chefs confidently plated their dishes and brought them to the judges as the wafting smell of grilled ground meat caused the occasional silence between spectators.
As the final burgers hit the judges table, a tinge of anticipation began to build between the chefs and restaurant representatives. Some scores were high and other were lower than the chefs would have hoped but there had to be a winner.
Two awards were given that night, one based on the highest score and another which was voted on by the public as a people’s choice award. The fault with the second option was many of the patrons had never been to some of these restaurants, thus making it more of a popularity contest than an even opportunity.
Nevertheless, the time for the winners had finally arrived. The People’s Choice Award was given to Capital City Grill which didn’t surprise many, but the winner of Best Downtown Burger did. Go Ya Ya’s Crepes took the title with a burger that is only made on Thursdays. The Main Street Market restaurant, more known for its titular dish, shocked many in the crowd.
As the coordinator, Franz Borghardt, thanked those in attendance and the sponsors, he released a bit of information. He, along with his partners will conduct other Best Burger competitions across Baton Rouge such as a North Gate/ South Gate/ Tigerland competition. The winners of these regional events could lead to a larger Best Burger in Baton Rouge competitions at a later date.
By having these events in multiple regions, local businesses are being promoted which creates a stronger community in Baton Rouge. That community is just as important to this series of competitions as the chefs and food that participate. The coordinators agreed that using food to build a stronger community is something they hope for with every event.
Photos by Emily Brauner.