How often does red meat make the front page of the newspaper—when it’s not a story about a massive recall or a horrendous outbreak of foodborne illness, that is?
Not very often.
Yesterday was an exception, however, at least in the local daily The Herald, published in the Seattle-area town of Everett, Wash., where I live.
The headline (rather curiously) read: “Drive to tweak builds a better burger,” with a photo of amateur chef Mark Richardson and his award-winning lamb burger splashed across three columns.
The Snohomish, Wash., resident had just won $15,000 in a contest sponsored by Sutter Home Winery, the California-based vintner perhaps best known for its popular, if pedestrian, Merlots, Pinot Noirs and Cabernet Suavignons.
Mark Richardson got a front-page write-up—plus 15 grand—for his spicy lamb burger. Officially, Richardson’s creation was described as “a cumin-garam-marsala-coriander-spiked Indian burger on pita bread with tahini-pistachio-serrano-chile-cream-cheese mayonnaise.”
Try fitting that mouthful on a menu.
Nevertheless, according to The Herald, Richardson beat out more than 3,500 entrants in a Napa Valley cook-off last month, winning in the “Alternative” division.
You can certainly see how his burger recipe qualified for that category; the lamb patty has a dozen different ingredients, as so does his “special sauce.”
Richardson claimed to be a mere dilettante in the kitchen, telling the reporter that his only culinary passion was spicy foods.
As a kid, he wanted more zing in his chicken noodle soup, he said. “I spruced up the Campbell’s with vinegar and soy sauce,” he said.
Okay, who doesn’t agree that Campbell’s—on offense—couldn’t stand some spicing up?
Six patties, two hours, one shot
A far most intriguing part of the story was the factoid buried on the newspaper section’s back page: He served on the board of Sierra Trading Post, an online and catalog retail sportswear company that his dad founded in 1986 and later sold to The TJX Co. in 2012 for what the story described as “lots of money.”
“I retired at age 44,” Richardson said, noting that he now lives in a large log home in the heavily forested foothills of Washington’s Cascade Mountains and has plenty of time to spend in the home’s sprawling kitchen—unlike the Sutter Home contest.
There, he was placed in a tent, was given two pounds of meat and had to fashion six burgers in two hours.