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Iron Chef Burger contest gets juicy

July 24, 2011|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • Laurie Waltz serves her pizza burger to judges Sunday during the Iron Chef Burger competition at the Washington County Ag Expo & Fair.
By Dave McMillion/Staff Writer

Only two teams showed up for the first Iron Chef Burger competition Sunday at the Washington County Ag Expo & Fair Sunday.

But it didn’t matter.

The two burgers up for judging were so fat, so stuffed with cheese and so mouthwatering that the judges were having a tough time determining a winner.

But after some scoring on qualities including taste, texture, aroma and creativity, four judges were able to award the first-place prize to Laurie and Jay Waltz of Chewsville for their pizza burger.

The two teams were each given one pound of ground chuck before the competition. Contestants were able to prepare their burgers, sauces and condiments at home, but all grilling had to be done on location during the competition, according to the rules.

Wendy Price, Amy Simmons and Kendra Barnhart were the first team to show up at the Twigg Cycle Activity Event Sunday afternoon.

The team called themselves the WAK Women, based on the first letters of their first names.

“Not to be confused with wacky,” said Price, who lives on Keedysville Road.

The women dragged in an impressive load of equipment, including a tripod-like object that team member Amy Simmons referred to as her “secret weapon.” It was an outdoor, propane-powered cooker that the WAK Women used to deep-fry fresh-cut french fries.

“Because you can’t have hamburgers without french fries,” said Simmons, of Keedysville.

The offering from the WAK Women? The Inside Out Bacon Ranch Cheeseburger.

It involved mixing ranch dressing with the meat. Then some ranch dressing was mixed with bacon and set aside. The meat was pulled apart into two chucks, and the ranch dressing and bacon mixture was put between the pieces of meat, along with American cheese.

Because the women heard that the judges like garlic and other spices, they decided to add some Montreal Steak Seasoning to the burgers.

“It’s going to put some ‘wow’ in the burgers. Hopefully that will get it for us,” Simmons said.

Laurie and Jay Waltz arrived and started putting together their creation, which included beef, sweet Italian sausage and pizza sauce. Waltz, who operates the Waltz family farm with her husband, said she always loved the pizza burgers she got at the Franklin County (Pa.) Fair. So she started experimenting with her own version.

Laurie Waltz said she uses very lean ground beef, then blends in the sausage. Then she adds a little pizza sauce, being careful not to overdo it.

“There’s got to be a balance. You don’t want to turn it into meatloaf,” she said.

Some bread crumbs are added, and the hamburger is split into two pieces.

Pepperoni and provolone cheese are placed between the two pieces of hamburger, which are sealed together and cooked slowly over the grill, Laurie Waltz said.

There were hardly any people under the tent when the competition began, but about 30 people had gathered by the time the competition was over. Smoke piping from the burger creations drifted through the tent and event announcer Leslie Hart led some of the spectators in a wave as the anticipation mounted.

The WAK Women finished their dish first, serving it up with a dill pickle spear.

“The judges are whispering and shoving food into their mouths. It’s a good sign,” Hart said.

Laurie and Jay Waltz won the competition with a score of 374 out of a possible 400. The WAK Women finished with a score of 330.

Hart said she expected more people to participate next year. Many times, people who like to compete in such events observe it the first year to see how it is done, she said.

Both teams were given a new charcoal grill and a bag of charcoal.

On Saturday, the Iron Chef 2011 Cook-off was held. In that event, teams of three to five contestants were to receive nine mystery ingredients at noon Saturday for their food creations.

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Today’s Ag Exposchedule

• Gates opens at 10 a.m.
• Cost: $2 general admission
• 3 p.m. — “Antietam’s Aftermath: The Battle’s Impact on Local Farms” presented by the National Park Service, Twigg Cycle Activity Tent
• 8:45 p.m. — Fertile Soil performs, Twigg Cycle Activity Tent
• For a complete schedule, go to www.agexpoandfair.org or call the Washington County Extension Office at 301-791-0954.

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