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Local burger tastes defeat in voting by "Live!" viewers

June 29, 2009|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN -- Thirty-eight customers ordered Chorizo Burgers from Hempen Hill BBQ Bar & Grill Saturday -- the day after the burger was named one of five finalists in a grilling contest on "Live! with Regis and Kelly."

However, local interest was not enough to land the Hagerstown burger a first-place finish.

The barbecue restaurant's Chorizo Burger lost the show's Ultimate Hometown Grill-Off in the burger category Monday to a Montana "Bubba Burger," a show spokeswoman said. The announcement was made between 9:20 and 9:30 a.m. during the show.

The winning burger is made at The Cutting Board in Eureka, Mont.

Hempen Hill BBQ Co-owner Kathy Reeder said she was thrilled with the local response to the national attention received by the burger, which was created by the restaurant's executive chef, Jason Vogel.

"Thirty-eight (burgers) ... that might be in a three-week period normally," said Reeder, referring to Saturday's orders. "People were just coming in ... didn't even need the menu. They just wanted the Chorizo Burger."

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On Friday, Hempen Hill's Chorizo Burger was featured as one of five finalists in the burger category. Viewers had from 10 a.m. Friday to 10 a.m. Sunday to go to the show's Web site to vote for their favorite burger based on appearance and description, a spokeswoman said.

The number of votes the Chorizo Burger received was not available Monday, the spokeswoman said, and Reeder said she also did not know how her burger stacked up.

The Chorizo Burger was selected as one of five finalists from a pool of 55 entries, she said.

Reeder said the Pennsylvania Avenue barbecue restaurant offered the burger when it opened in October 2006.

Vogel's recipe includes chorizo sausage, ground beef and Cajun spices with pepper jack cheese melted on top. The burger is served with lettuce, onions and tomato, with a spicy vegetable slaw on the side.

"It's kind of like the turtle in the race," Reeder said. "I'm very pleased. With only being a 3-year-old restaurant, I'm just ecstatic to have this (attention)."

After the Friday broadcast on "Live!" and publication of a Herald-Mail story, Reeder said many customers who ordered the burger or had in the past said they planned to vote online. Reeder also included information about the contest on the restaurant's Facebook page and handed customers small cards with the "Live!" Web site address.

"We encouraged people to get on, and look at all five and support the local burger," Reeder said. "We asked them to give us a vote if they would."

Reeder said she was not disappointed in the contest results, and said the Chorizo Burger is still No. 1 in Hagerstown.

Reeder said she expects interest in the Chorizo Burger to continue, and there are plans to offer mini Chorizo Burgers, called sliders, at Hempen Hill in the fall.

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