I recently attended the ICT Burger Battle, Food Truck Style 2022 event on August 20 in O.J. Watson Park. This was the 10th Annual Event which raises money for the disability services and programs at KETCH.
There were just four food trucks there to compete in the Burger Battle which was disappointing, I expected more. No matter, it was a beautiful day and the $20 event fee went to a good cause. In addition to the competing trucks, there were other non-competing vendors in attendance.
It was fun going to each truck and getting a sample of their burger, sample sizes were 1/4 of a burger.
The first truck I hit was Chef Roberto's. Raised in Texas, Chef Roberto experienced the rich culinary roots of the Southwest firsthand. Chef Roberto is a mobile taco bar that is available for any type of social event, cooking up their delicious tacos, salsas and side dishes. His burger offering for this contest was a Firehouse inspired Smoked Gouda Bacon Cheeseburger with roasted Poblano Tequila Amaretto Jam topped with fresh roasted garlic and a kiss of horseradish mustard. This was an impressive sample and the best looking visual of the battle. I would love to get the recipe for that Poblano Tequila Amaretto Jam!
Next, I hit The Critical Cart. A local food truck based out of Maple and Ridge, this truck is known for their hot dogs, bratwursts, grilled cheese and burgers. Their burger offering for this battle featured wasabi, pineapple, garlic and home made pickles. It was tasty, with the spicy/sweet wasabi/pineapple combination quite interesting.
The third truck sampled was Shurley Concessions. Based in Valley Center, Shurley Concessions cooks up American fare such as breakfast, burgers, nachos, chili pies and other concession-style foods. Their Burger Battle offering was a straight forward cheeseburger with traditional toppings. While the base flavors were good, there was nothing elevated about this burger and the sample didn't come dressed, you had to assemble it yourself which kind of defeats the purpose behind a sample. Frankly, it was a bit of a hassle dressing a 1/4 section of cheeseburger with the mustard, ketchup, mayo, lettuce and tomato.
The fourth and final competing truck I hit was Southeast Carryout. Serving Wichita since the 1980s, their family-owned, brick-and-mortar restaurant can be found on the corner of Harry and Oliver. Southeast Carryout is also a past Champion, winning the ICT Burger Battle two years running in 2020 and 2021. Their burger offering, called the Mushroom Cloud, featured mushroom sauce, jalapenos, grilled onions, mushrooms and Swiss cheese. This burger was also impressive. Aptly named, you really pick up the mushroom notes and complimentary flavors of jalapeno, grilled onions and Swiss made for a tasty burger bite.
After sampling the four Burger Battle contestants, here's how I ranked them:
Coming in at #4, Shurley Concessions. I'm thinking the strategy here was to keep things simple and let the base flavors speak for themselves in presenting a straight forward, but plain, cheeseburger. That might have worked if Shurley Concessions had the best ingredients across the board, but their competitors brought top notch ingredients to the battle too. Complicating matters, was requiring folks to assemble their sample.
Ranked third, The Critical Cart. It was an interesting combination of flavors and top notch ingredients. Pairing wasabi and pineapple together as burger toppings was eye opening for me in a really good way, very innovative.
Finishing 2nd in my rankings, was Personal Chef Roberto. This was such a tasty sample, it left me wanting a whole burger to sample it was that good. It was perfectly cooked beef nicely topped with that smoked Gouda, but what put this burger over the top was that Poblano Tequila Amaretto Jam coupled with that kiss of horseradish mustard! Frankly, this burger could have finished number 1 for me, it was very tough choice, a virtual toss up, but a vote for best burger had to be made.
My winner for the ICT Burger Battle Food Truck Style 2022 was Southeast Carryout. I'm a huge mushroom fan and this burger delivered big time on that flavor. This was an elevated Mushroom Swiss burger, doubling up on the mushroom umami with a mushroom sauce and chunks of mushroom, complimented perfectly by the Swiss cheese. Kicking things up a notch was the jalapeno and grilled onion. This was another burger I wanted a full sized version of.
Here's how the people voted, the final, official results:
#4: Shurley's Concessions
#3: Personal Chef Roberto
#2: Southeast Carryout
#1: The Critical Cart
People really embraced the flavors that The Critical Cart brought to the contest. They've certainly increased their food truck following as have all the trucks. Representing burgers well in the 10th Annual ICT Burger Battle, Food Truck Style 2022, congratulations to all the participating vendors, nicely done!
$pend Wisely My Friends...
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