$25,000 Grand Prize Awarded to Leora Breese for Shakshuka Sunrise Burger
St. Helena, CA – Sutter Home Family Vineyards, creator of the nation’s longest running burger contest, today announced Leora Breese of Pomona, California as the Grand Prize Winner of its annual Build a Better Burger® Recipe Contest, an American tradition since 1990. Sutter Home awarded Breese with a $25,000 cash prize after five culinary judges tasted and declared her Shakshuka Sunrise Burger and Pinot Grigio wine pairing the winner at a live cook-off at the historic Sutter Home Inn in St. Helena. Five regional champions competed at the cook-off, preparing a variety of burgers that spanned from Jeff White of Marshfield, Michigan’s French Onion Umami Burger paired with Sutter Home Cabernet Sauvignon, to Lynn Albright of Fremont, Nebraska’s Korean-Style Bulgogi Burger paired with Rosé. All five semi-finalists received high praises from the live judging panel, but only Breese came home with the enviable life-size check that inspired hundreds of recipe entries throughout the year.
Sutter Home’s Build a Better Burger Recipe Contest was massage therapist Breese’s first cooking competition. “One day when I was between appointments, I started scrolling Facebook and saw this advertisement for the Sutter Home Build a Better Burger Recipe Contest,” recounted Breese. “I’ve never entered any kind of cooking competition before, but for some reason this popped out at me.”
Breese’s recipe first took her to Seattle for a regional cook-off, then to the Sutter Home Inn to compete nationally. Knowing the deep cooking knowledge and food competition experience she would face from contestants, Breese practiced her recipe repeatedly to get it right. “I practiced the heck out of this recipe, because I knew it needed finessing. I must have made it eight or nine times before the semi-finals, then a few more times before the finals,” said Breese.
The recipe – best described by Breese – ultimately won the hearts of the judging panel. “My breakfast burger is a mashup of two of my favorite foods: breakfast burgers and shakshuka. The tomato, bell pepper and caramelized onion spread is a smoky departure from ketchup, paired with quick-pickled cucumber for a cool crunch and a fried egg with a runny yolk.” Breese’s burger was also designed with her Sutter Home Pinot Grigio pairing in mind. “I enjoy how the acidity in the tomato plays off the acidity in the wine,” Breese added.
All five judges praised Breese’s unique take on the traditionally middle eastern dish. Weber’s Head Grill Master Kevin Kolman took note of the eclectic ingredients that comprised Breese’s burger. “Barbecue brings culture and people together and that’s where you took me on this journey,” said Kolman.
Bravo TV’s Top Chef Casey Thompson similarly commended the burger’s transportive properties. “This transports me to a small town like Santa Cruz where you wake up and want to go eat delicious breakfast. I see myself in a local restaurant finding this brilliant creation,” said Thompson.
The egg atop the burger also impressed. “You know it’s a good burger when you have to hunch over – I judge burgers on my hunching,” said Juliana Evans, creator of Good Morning America’s best Super Bowl Burger and personality behind @farmgirleats_. Fellow judges Chef Lars Kronmark – senior-chef instructor at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone – and former Build a Better Burger Champion Naylet LaRochelle similarly gave positive marks to the victorious burger.
Upon receiving her life-size check, Breese proudly declared that her winnings would go toward a down payment for a home – an expense for which she and her husband had been saving. “This check is a down payment for us. We have been saving like crazy – this gets us there,” said Breese.
“The Sutter Home team is thrilled to help Leora and her husband Jason take the next step in their journey together,” said Brie Wohld, vice president, marketing for Sutter Home. “Sutter Home was founded more than 70 years ago and grew to what it is today because of the hard work and dedication of the Trinchero family. We applaud Leora for her time, energy and practice which paid off for her here today.”
Sutter Home’s Build a Better Burger Recipe Contest will once again open in spring 2020, for its 30th year. All are encouraged to submit their favorite burger recipes for their chance to win $30,000 at the 2020 milestone cook-off. For additional information on the contest or to access past Sutter Home Build a Better Burger recipes and wine pairing suggestions, visit www.sutterhome.com.
Promotional partners for the 2019 Sutter Home Build a Better Burger retail promotion include Blue Rhino® Propane, KC Masterpiece BBQ Sauce, King’s Hawaiian Buns, Scripto Lighters and Weber Grills.
About Sutter Home
When the Trinchero family bought the Sutter Home Winery in 1948, they had vision, passion and a keen insight into consumer tastes. In the early 1970s, Sutter Home revolutionized the way Americans enjoyed wine when it created the first-ever White Zinfandel, introducing a new, sweeter style of wine—along with several other crowd-pleasing varietals—at an affordable price. By the 1980s and 1990s, Sutter Home became a household name as the second largest independent, family-run winery in the United States. In 2005, the winery was the first to produce the groundbreaking single-serve, 187ml package in light-weight plastic bottles. Today, Sutter Home continues to reflect the evolution of its consumers, offering more than 23 different varietals in 750ml, 187ml and 1.5L bottles and new 500ml Tetra Pak packages. For more information visit www.SutterHome.com