Press Release

American Culinary Federation’s Build a Better Burger 2002

We are very pleased to announce the results of American Culinary Federation’s Build a Better Burger 2002, sponsored by Sutter Home Winery and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. A year of hard work and planning culminated in a fantastic event at Zinfandel Ranch this weekend attended by 500 burger lovers to support City of Hope Breast Cancer programs. We thank everybody who contributed to the success of this event, but there are some who merit special recognition.

Our hospitality team: Barry Wiss, Susan Smith, Belinda Dubnow and their staff’s attention to detail and expertise ensured the success of the event—arguably the biggest and most complex undertaking of the year for their department.

Our culinary team: James Houghton, David Tankersley, and Jeffrey Starr managed to figure out a way to prepare and serve ten completely different delicious burgers to 500 people. This was an extraordinary feat of organization to say the least, and a lot to ask of any culinary department. Our guests enjoyed the chance to taste each and every one of the finalist burgers, and truly felt part of the excitement.

A special thank you to Jeff who despite the demands on his time in terms of preparation for the cook-off made himself available for four television appearances and three radio interviews to promote the winery and the event. Ketchum Public Relations did a great job pitching Jeff as a burger “starr” and also coordinating the live remote broadcast by Gene Burns from KGO Newstalk Radio 810. Thanks to Julie Hamilton, Drew McGowan, and Ken Hooper from the agency for their efforts with the media on our behalf. Incidentally, the Food Network will be airing a program on the Build a Better Cook-Off (filmed at last year’s event) on the “Cook-Off America” program November 4. Check your local listings for details.

Our volunteers: thanks to everybody from the winery who came out to make sure things ran smoothly and that our guests had a great time. Your team spirit and support are most appreciated! Although we hesitate to single anyone out, special mention has to made of the volunteer who traveled the farthest—Dennis Steward and his fiancee who came up from Southern California to man the ticket table!

Head Judge James McNair: James narrowed over 1,700 recipes down to ten, and pulled together an incredible panel of judges including the Senior Editor of Bon Appetit Magazine, the Food Editor for USA Today Weekend, and the host of the television program “Bay Cafe.” James and partner Andrew Moore are a huge part of the success of Build a Better Burger year after year.

Joanne Gold and Michelle Fuller from City of Hope: We’ve been seeing a lot of these two lately. In fact, we’ve spent the past three weekends together in conjunction with our Oakland A’s Breast Cancer Awareness program and the BBB Cook-Off,and will work together again this weekend at the Oakland Walk for Hope Against Breast Cancer. They have a very busy schedule this time of year, and we appreciate their support of our winery activities on behalf of City of Hope.

John Zehnder, Michael Baskette, and Leslie White from the American Culinary Federation and Steve Wald from the National Cattleman’s Beef Association: The ACF has been a terrific partner this entire year in their new role as presenter and the NCBA added an exciting dimension with the beef/veal category. Applause for John Zehnder, owner of Zehnder’s Restaurant in Michigan and a chapter president of the ACF who performed admirably as our Master of Ceremonies.

Michele Moline, Liz Hartley, Erin Wassum: Last but not least, led by Michele, these three formed the core production team for the event. From contestant management, to handbook assembly, to coordinating the thousands of details that go into producing BBB, without their efforts and dedication this event would not be possible.

As judge Charles Neave, editor and publisher of Destinations Magazine commented: “There are three great events in Napa Valley: Home Winemakers, Hands Across the Valley, and the Build a Better Burger Cook-Off at Sutter Home Winery.” That’s quite an endorsement considering the number of events that take place here in the valley each year.

Winners of the 2002 Build a Better Burger Contest
Best Beef or Veal Burger—$20,000
Vitello Focaccia

An Italian-inspired creation using ground veal blended with hard salami and prosciutto served on focaccia bread…
Annelle F. Williams, Martinsville, Virginia

Best Alternative Burger—$10,000
Spicy Summer Shrimp Burgers with Crisp Pancetta

A light, fresh rendition featuring ground shrimp mixed with sweet corn kernels, sun-dried tomatoes and a touch of horseradish…
Kelly Bailer Krauss, Little Falls, New Jersey

People’s Choice—$5,000
Chipotle-Honey BBQ Bacon Burger with Gorgonzola Cheese

A meaty beef and pork sausage burger with a sweet and smoky kick…
Adam J. Payson, Omaha, Nebraska

For all the recipes, visit

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Note: ACF’s online media room can be accessed at