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Top burgers duke it out for a good cause

One of the burgers looking to pick up votes in the Burger Battle is the The Boss Burger, a pork/beef blend mixed with whiskey chile de arbol and stuffed with with blue cheese and pig candy (candied bacon) then topped with more pig candy, lettuce, tomato and chevre cheese. (Photo by Jordan Willi)

From April 10 to June 10, members of the New Richmond community who purchase a punch card will get the chance to taste a specialty burgers from six New Richmond-area restaurants and vote to decide which one has the best burger in town.

And to make things even better, all the proceeds from the competition will go to the American Cancer Society Relay For Life of New Richmond.

“This is something brand new we are trying this year. We are super excited to do something new and something I don’t think New Richmond has seen done,” said Relay For Life of New Richmond Publicity Chair Jill Foster. “It seems to be going very well. We’ve been able to create some nice buzz in town. We decided to start with six restaurants for our first year, so we signed up the first six that said they were interested.”

The six restaurants involved in this year’s battle include SAM’s Corner Bar & Grill, Not Justa Café, Ready Randy’s, Rusty’s Waterin’ Hole & Chowhouse, the Wild Badger and Brady’s Brewhouse.

To take part in the Burger Battle as a “judge” community members need to purchase a $25 punch card from a Relay For Life team member. Then the judge must go to each competing restaurant during its regular lunch or dinner hours from April 10 through June 10, to receive one free featured burger. After finishing the burger, the judge needs to go online and vote for his or her favorite burger. There are only 250 punch cards available. Each punch card gives the cardholder the website where to vote and they each have a unique number used for voting (so they can only vote once). Voting goes through June 15.

“Most of the restaurants were very excited and many signed up before we even gave them all the details,” Foster said. “They could see the value in the competition, getting new people in the door, helping out a good cause, etc. In fact, we only made room for six restaurants this year, but others have already shown interest in next year.”

The idea to have a Burger Battle in New Richmond came from Kellie Burrows, the American Cancer Society Community Relations partner, who had seen a similar competition take place in a few of the surrounding communities such as Hudson and River Falls.

“They’ve done the burger battle in River Falls for two years for their Relay For Life (to be held March 28 at the River Falls High School),” Foster said. “It’s been a great success there, so Kellie asked if we wanted to give it a try here and our committee said yes.”

When the competition is over, not only will a Burger Battle champion be crowned, but 100 percent of the sales of the punch cards will go directly to the American Cancer Society Relay For Life.

“Each of the participating restaurant is donating their burgers. Craig Hofland of Is It 2B Marketing donated the setup of the punch cards and website, and Pete Keskey of Hudson Minuteman Press donated the printing of the cards, table tents and posters and of course, our wonderful volunteers selling the punch cards,” Foster said. “A representative from each restaurant will be at the Relay For Life so they can be recognized and thanked and once voting has been completed, the winner will be presented with a trophy or plaque.

To purchase a punch card, contact Jill Foster at First National Community Bank, 715-243-6169, or Jenny Larson at WESTconsin Credit Union, 715-246-2068.

The Contenders

The Wild Badger

The Whiskey Burger: Topped with caramelized onions, cheddar cheese, whiskey black pepper sauce and crispy bacon.

Brian Meyer, owner of The Wild Badger -- “Relay For Life is a good cause and we have been looking for more ways to partner with them and help out. I talked with owners of some of the restaurants who took part in a burger battle in River Falls and they said that they got a great response. It will be a fun thing and it will give people the chance to experience a few restaurants that they haven’t gone to before. I feel like it will be a huge success.”

Rusty’s Waterin’ Hole & Chowhouse

The Challenge Burger: Topped with bacon, pepperjack cheese, cream cheese, homemade jalapeno jelly and lettuce.

Crystal Williamson, owner of Rusty’s Waterin’ Hole & Chowhouse -- “This is a great cause for use to be a part of and be involved with in the New Richmond Community. This is a new burger for us. I went back and forth between creating a new burger or using one from our menu, but in the end I felt like it would be a good idea to make up one that featured our secret sauce, which is the jalapeno jelly.”

Ready Randy’s

The Asian Burger: Asian-marinated ground beef, topped with a homemade Asian slaw, muenster cheese and grilled onions.

Kari Hurtis, chef at Ready Randy’s -- “Deb and Randy (Calleja) were really involved when my son was diagnosed and this is another way for them to get involved and help with cancer research. We thought we would have a relay team this year and then this came up and we figured it was another good way to give back and give people something to enjoy. We created this burger because we wanted to do something different and that we haven’t done before at Ready Randy’s.”

Not Justa Café

The Pizza Burger: A one-pound angus burger is covered in homemade marinara, an Italian sausage patty and pepperoni all on a ciabatta bun.

Adam McCarty, cook at Not Justa Café -- “This is a good cause of course and it gives us another way to give back. We already give soup to homeless shelters a couple times a month, but this is another good way to help out and get our name out there. We made this burger just for this event. We do things like that here where we just take some good ingredients and create new things.”

Brady’s Brewhouse

The Boss Burger: A pork/beef blend is mixed with whiskey chile de arbol to create this stuffed burger. The patty is then stuffed with blue cheese and pig candy (candied bacon) and topped with lettuce, tomato and chevre cheese.

Chris Polfus, owner of Brady’s Brewhouse -- “This is just a great cause and we wanted to be a part of it. We wanted to give back more and help with the cancer research the Relay for Life helps support. As far as the burger goes, I’ve been dreaming of this burger for almost five years now and it is finally ready. It was good timing that finally figuring out the burger went right along with this competition. If it does well in the competition we might add it to the menu.”

SAM’s Corner Bar & Grill

The Ghost Juicy Lucy: A half-pound stuffed burger filled with ghost pepper cheese and served on a seeded bun. Lettuce, tomato and onion may be added upon request.

Paul Rode, owner of The Agave Kitchen in Hudson -- “I’m doing this to honor the agreement that the owners made to be a part of the Burger Battle. The two things I heard from people when I came in here was how nice the Moore family is and that SAM’s is haunted, so I thought it was a perfect reason to use the ghost pepper in the burger. People who like hot stuff will really enjoy it. Since it is a cheese it isn’t as intense, but it still has some good heat.”

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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