Our pals at Budwesier shipped us to St Louis this past weekend to attend the Bud and Burger Championships held at the storied Budwesier brewery. We first told you about this competition back in April after we attended the launch event hosted by Chef David Chang. Since that time, amateur chefs have been competing at festivals around the country for the chance to battle it out in the finals.

Before the burger action kicked off, we got a grand tour of the Budweiser Brewery from our old friend Brewmaster George Reisch. I met George in LA and we talked for a long time about Kolsch, Austrian vs. German beer, yeast, beechwood aging, all kinds of stuff. George is a fifth-generation brewmaster. His family started brewing beer in the mid 1800s in Springfield Illinois. George also served as the President of the Master Brewers Association of the Americas from 2008-09. Believe me when I say you will never meet a guy who has more passion or knowledge for the art of making beer. Having this master craftsman lead the Budweiser Brewery tour with all his enthusiasm and wisdom was a real treat.

Back in the mid-1800s, German immigrants came pouring through St. Louis and they brought their tasty lager beer with them. Lager is a crafted brew that takes time to make. It needs to rest and chill out. Back in the days before refrigeration, that required a cool dark place to store beer. This is why many lager breweries had underground faults.

Sampling ice cold Budweiser straight from the source, visiting the Clydesdale stables and seeing beechwood aging and big beer science in action was cool, but I was really digging our visit to the vaults underneath the Budweiser Brewery. Just one of the many perks of having Brewmaster George as your tour guide. As George explained, German immigrants would seek out areas where they could carve vaults out of limestone. This area of the brewery hasn’t been used for ages and back in the day, there wouldn’t have been any pipes in fault. When I showed George the photo of the vault, he sent me anold advertising tin from the 1870s that shows the vaults as they were originally used.

The Bud and Burger Championship wouldn’t be complete without the burgers. The finalists and their food trucks lined up to get samples out to everybody and the folks who attended had some serious options to choose from. BBQ pulled pork with bacon in one corner. Smoked bacon with brat sausage in another. Ground veal with a special mesquite steak sauce next to a truck serving burgers with Portobello mushrooms, red onion relish and garlic herb aioli. You get the idea.

In the end though, the people voted and it was the Angie Burger that came out victorious. The creation of Angie Bos, the Angie Burger featured glazed bacon with provel cheese and caramelized onions. Here’s the recipe:

The Angie Burger

Glazed Bacon, Provel Cheese, Caramelized Onions.
Type of Bun: Onion Bun.
Prep time: 15 minutes.
Cooking time: 20 minutes.


2 lbs. ground beef.
1 lb. ground pork sausage.
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese.
3 oz. crumbled bacon.
1 egg, beaten.
Seasoning salt: mix salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, minced garlic.
Slice of American cheese.
Slice of Provel cheese.
2 stripes glazed bacon (glaze is 1:1:1: ratio of brown sugar, maple syrup and honey).
Caramelized onion (1/6 of a sliced onion, cooked in 1 tbsp sugar and 2-3 oz. Budweiser).
Fresh spinach for topping.
Tomato slices.


Head skillet to medium heat. Add in butter or oil, then sliced onion. Stir in sugar and Budweiser. Cook until the Budweiser is reduced and the onions are soft.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Lay out bacon strips on parchment paper or greased rack on baking sheet. Combine brown sugar, maple syrup and honey in a bowl. Bake bacon for 15-20 minutes until it reaches desired crispness. Every 5 minutes, flip and glaze the bacon. (If using a rack, remove bacon to cook so it doesn’t stick.)

Combine ground beef, ground pork sausage, shredded cheddar cheese, crumbled bacon, egg and seasoning mix. Shape into 8 oz. patty. Put a divot in the center of the patty. Cook patty in skillet over medium-high head. Add a little Budweiser. Flip and cook the other side (flip only once). Place slices of American and Provel cheese on the patty, then cover skillet so cheese melts.

Assemble the burger: bottom bun, patty with cheese, glazed bacon, caramelized onions, spinach, sliced tomato and top bun

Chef David Chang

Angie took home a check for $100K and will also get the chance to star in a new cooking show that will appear on Esquire. Chef David Chang helped judge the competition and he was also present for a few of the different festivals where amateur chefs battled it out to get the the championship. Part of the reason that Chang signed up was that he wanted to be inspired.

“It was enlightening in ways that I never thought it would be,” Chang told me. “I wanted to do it partly to get inspired. As a professional I sorta get stuck in my own ideas or the people I’m surrounded with. It’s like being stuck in high school with the same kids your entire life,” he said.

“I surround myself with the people I know and it doesn’t really change. It gets homogenized. More importantly, even as a professional you get stuck with the ideas that you think you already know. Sometimes wisdom isn’t necessarily the best thing,” Chang said.

Chang explained that some of the recipes he saw were things that he would never do, but that’s a good thing.

“You can learn from anything,” Chang said, “and it’s stupid to say that you can’t.”

True learning and growing as a chef comes from the mistakes you make as well as the wild ideas you see from others.

“The real discovery isn’t knowing how to do it. The discovery is in fucking it up. Fucking up so hard is something I do less and less and less, even though that’s how I know I’m going to learn,” Chang said.

All of us can relate to that, especially in the kitchen. So if you want some burger inspiration to get your creative culinary juices flowing, check out the full list of the final Bud and Burger Championship recipes at www.budweiser.com/recipes.html

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