story by Melinda Lejman | photos courtesy of Best Burger Fest
One thing Memphis does exceptionally well is food.With over two dozen Memphis restaurants featured on the Food Network’s website, and an annual barbeque championship bringing in over 100 teams from all over the world, you might imagine Memphis a haven for food done right. We also know how to give back to the community. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Memphis is ranked as the second most charitable city out of 50 metropolitan areas. So
it should come as no surprise that in our city, cooking and an appetite for philanthropy go together like butter on biscuits.
Best Memphis Burger Fest, an annual burger competition that raises money for local animal care organizations, is the prime example of how good food can bring people together for a cause. The festival is a fundraiser of Memphis Paws, a nonprofit organization formed with the mission of increasing responsible pet ownership and providing support for rescues and animal organizations in the Memphis Area. Since its inception, Memphis Paws has donated over $40,000 to area animal organizations.
Seth Agranov, co-founder and president of Memphis Paws, is in prime planning mode for the 6th Annual Memphis Best Burger Fest, which will be held at Tiger Lane on October 7th. The festival promises something for everyone, and includes live music by Star & Micey, local beer, a family-friendly kid zone, and a cornhole tournament. Those looking for a little VIP treatment can head to the VIP section and enjoy a burger bar, Jack Pirtle’s chicken, cocktails, and beer from High Cotton Brewery.
The competition itself draws around 40 teams who compete in up to three burger categories: the classic cheese burger, a specialty category, and a veggie burger. Teams can also compete in a bloody mary competition. “Teams have really gotten serious about this,” says Agranov. “They spend a lot of time and money practicing, bringing in quality ingredients, and we try to match them with quality judges.” While certification isn’t required, they do find judges from the Memphis BBQ network, Kansas City Barbeque Society, and Memphis in May Barbeque Fest. “We even look for people who are state certified,” says Agranov. “So, people who really know their way around food.”
Trophies and cash prizes are given for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in each category, and anyone who wants to try for Grand Master status must compete in all three. Past teams have even qualified to compete at the World Food Championship. This year’s event will also include a slider eating contest sponsored by Slider Inn, as well as a charity Bobbing for Burgers event. With a ticket price of just $10 for general admission, this fundraiser is a no-brainer.
In addition to admission, teams help raise money with donation boxes at the event.
While there will be some food for purchase, most attendees will fill up nicely on samples provided by cooking teams. “We work very hard to make sure Burger Fest has something for everyone,” says Agranov. “The adults have a great time while the kids are exhausted from all the activity, and no one leaves hungry.”
To order your tickets, got to bestmemphisburgerfest.com