COLUMBUS, OH (Jan. 17, 2019) – Jomar Rios, executive chef at Great Wolf Lodge in Gurnee, Ill., won the second-annual Burger Battle competition held at the 2019 The Mid-America Restaurant Expo. The restaurant-centered trade show took place January 13-14 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio. The Burger Battle was sponsored by the Ohio Beef Council.
Dubbed Five Rules, the burger was designed by Rios to combine the best of all five flavors sensed by the tongue: salty, sweet, bitter, sour and umami. In achieving that complex flavor aim, Rios topped his all-beef burger with smoked gruyere cheese, sunny-side-up egg, truffle aioli, arugula tossed in truffle vinegar, sour cherry mostarda and served it on a brioche bun. He presented the finished burger under a glass topper filled with wood smoke.
“I used to work at a lot of upscale restaurants, so these flavors are very familiar to me,” says Rios, a native Puerto Rican. “I wanted to see how these flavors worked together on a burger, and I’m really happy with it.”
This is only the second burger contest for Rios, a flair bartender turned chef. In the this year’s Burger Battle, he was one of 10 competitors charged with making the ideal hamburger in 30 minutes. Using a double-blind judging format, each competitor made three duplicate burgers, which were presented to a secret panel of judges. Rios’s efforts won him the winner-take-all prize of $1,000.
Asked what he plans to do with the cash, Rios said he and his wife are expecting their second child, “and kids are expensive! I’m sure the money will go to the child.”