Food & Drink

Sac Burger Battle winning chef: ‘Why change when you have something good going?’

By Chris Macias

cmacias@sacbee.com

Pangaea won the judge's choice at the 5th annual Sacramento Burger Battle. In this photo from the restaurant, a burger at the Pangaea pub includes bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and house-brined pickle chips.
Pangaea won the judge's choice at the 5th annual Sacramento Burger Battle. In this photo from the restaurant, a burger at the Pangaea pub includes bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and house-brined pickle chips. Sacramento

It’s known as the ultimate gut buster of local food showdowns. The air smells of sizzling ground beef, with a judging panel and crowd at Cesar Chavez Plaza considering platters upon platters of hamburgers.

The 5th annual Sacramento Burger Battle went down the night of Sept. 15, with 15 chefs vying for the right to claim they make Sacramento’s best burger. As the judging panel, led by Rick Mindermann of Corti Brothers, considered the entries from all 15 chefs, the crowd grubbed down on burger samples and voted for their own “people’s choice” award.

Given all the ground beef and piled toppings going around, it’s definitely an event where nobody goes home hungry. In fact, the feeling one gets after hobbling away from the event is that you don’t need to eat for a week – or, at least you’re good on burgers for a while.

But all this hamburger hedonism is done for a good cause, with proceeds benefiting the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.

Yet, this is a battle, so after all the grubbing and points tabulation, two winners emerged on top of this heap of hamburgers. The winners for the 5th annual Sacramento Burger Battle are:

Judges’ Choice: Pangaea Cafe (2nd place: Cecil’s Taste; 3rd place: LowBrau)

People’s Choice: LowBrau (2nd place: Iron Grill; 3rd place: Cecil’s Taste)

For Pangaea Cafe, the night marked a back-to-back win in this mightiest of local burger competitions. The Franklin Boulevard eatery and craft beer spot took home the Sacramento Burger Battle’s championship belt in 2015. The winning burger made on Thursday was not only the same burger recipe used at the competition last year, but the same burger found daily on Pangaea’s menu.

“Our attitude was if someone was going to take the belt, they’d have to take it from a burger that won already,” said Brett Stockdale, the head chef of Pangaea. “It’s our brand and what we stand behind. Why change when you have something good going?”

The winning burger recipe was originated by Rob Venditti, Pangaea’s former chef who’s since started a Tahoe Park-based catering business. The burger’s components include a well-seasoned eight ounce patty of certified Angus beef, in a custom blend by Del Monte Meat Co., housemade mayonnaise and special sauce, housemade pickles and thick-cut applewood bacon – all sandwiched between a Bella Bru bun.

This burger can be had, with fries, for $15 at Pangaea. And if last year’s win was any indication, they’ll be firing up about twice the number of burger orders in the next couple weeks due to buzz from the competition.

“We want it to be a consistent product,” said Stockdale. “Every time you get the burger, it’ll be as good as the time you had it before.”

Chris Macias: 916-321-1253, @chris_macias

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