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The Trickle - Burger Busting

May 21, 2012 - Brian Ferry
A reputation as a devourer of food sometimes has advantages. Other times, it just means I have to back up that reputation at the expense of my belly. I can share good stories of the times I've eaten huge platters of pizza or a massive meatball stromboli. I didn't have to share the stories to get a good job offer recently. Once again, I was selected as a judge for a Warren food festival. At the Allegheny Burger Festival Saturday at Betts Park, I walked through a tall crowd (wondering why all these people were wasting their height and athleticism on basketball) to take my place at the table of judgement. I was joined by a solid group of judges. Jody Fellows of Falls Church, Va., would have to be called the expert of the group. Fellows writes a hamburger blog at A visit there has given me an interest in finding a particular "duck-burger." After last year's inaugural event, Director of WCCBI Chamber Operations Melissa Anderson had seen his write-up in a Washington D.C. area newspaper. She called and he agreed to be a judge this year. "It's cool," Fellows said. "The location is perfect." "I didn't know what to expect," he said. The combination of the burger festival and the Gus Macker Basketball Tournament is a good one, he said. "When these guys are done playing you know they're going to be housing some burgers." A local food expert, Todd Singleton, formerly of Liberty Street Cafe, also joined in the judging. "I'm a big fan of good food," he said. There were "a lot of interesting and creative burgers," Singleton said of the judging, "a lot of good effort by a lot of people passionate about burgers." In what would have to qualify as the least experienced judge for the burgers, Gus Macker official Jamie Leach, of Michigan, said she recently stopped being a vegetarian. I said she was a "recovering" vegetarian. She didn't object. "The burgers were interesting," she said. "I liked it." Her observations were a little more well-rounded than those of the rest of the judges. "I've met some interesting characters," Leach said. "I'm having a lot of fun." Times Observer publisher Bob Patchen was the other judge. He didn't say much. Just enjoying the food, I guess. I contributed to the table chatter during the judging, but my palate is still more accustomed to passing large quantities of one food or another than trying to pick out the finer points. This year, I didn't eat everything that was put in front of me. I took several bites of everything, but I didn't feel obligated to finish. That's good news. I could walk afterwards and I was nearly fully functional the rest of the evening. There were a few too many jalapenos involved for my taste (on two burgers in a row), but all in all, it was a good event. I like food. I have years of experience eating it. I've been a food judge before. So... if you're looking for someone to judge food, think of me. (If you're looking for more than one judge, I can probably think of two or three more people.) One more thing... I don't like bananas. (There were no banana-burgers involved in the judging.)


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