Sunday recap: Cab trouble, Best Memphis Burger Fest, Blind Bear

Best Memphis Burger Fest trophies

My Sunday was a little different this week. I was a judge for the Best Memphis Burger festival. There were four cooking categories. I was a judge in the overall Best Memphis Burger category – the burger had to be cooked with beef, but beyond that teams could do whatever they wanted.

Best Memphis Burger was the last category to be judged, with turn-in at 2 PM. They asked us to be there 30-40 minutes prior to then. Since I got up early on Sunday, I had time to join my friends for brunch at the Majestic (I didn’t eat, obviously). After that I decided I had time for one quick beer, then I’d call a cab to take me to Minglewood Hall where the festival was being held.

My friends went to Blind Bear after the Majestic, but I decided to go to the Saucer because I figured it would be easier for cab drivers to find. Drank a Dos Equis Lager, called 577-7777 (Yellow Cab) at 12:30. “I need a cab to pick me up at Flying Saucer, Second at Peabody Place. Destination is Minglewood Hall, 1555 Madison.”

“You need to be picked up at the Flying J?” the dispatcher asked.

“Flying SAUCER,” I said, and repeated the address. They said they’d have someone right over. I hung up the phone and waited… and waited… and waited. The clock struck 1. No cab. I walked a block up the street in the rain to the Peabody Hotel, where FOUR Yellow Cabs with the 577-7777 number on the side were sitting. I got in one and told the driver what had happened. “There’s a new computer system,” he said. “People are not familiar with it yet.” I made a mental note that I would not be calling Yellow Cab for my trip home.

I got to the festival and Seth of the Best Memphis Burger blog was one of the first people I ran into. “Let me get you a beer,” he said, and went to the stand and poured me a Bud Light. “Do you want some Fireball too?” I turned down the Fireball, wanting a clear head for the judging.

At 2 I sat down for the judging and they brought out the burgers. Each judge was given four burgers in a blind box. First we had to open all four boxes and assign a score based on appearance. With that out of the way, we were asked to take a bite or two of each burger and judge the juiciness on a scale of 2 to 9. After that we were to take another bite or two and judge the taste. Two of my burgers were quite average. One was quite possibly better than any burger I’ve had in Memphis, and another not far behind. I had to eat nearly half of each before I was able to determine which was better in each category. I ran through a LOT of napkins because those two burgers were so juicy.

We were told we had to judge the entire burger on taste. That meant that if it came with a cup of sauce on the side, we had to apply the sauce to the burger and judge it with the sauce, even if we thought the burger would taste better without it. None of my four burgers came with sauce, though, so it wasn’t an issue.

After judging I walked over and watched the Kookamonga-eating competition. Teams of two competed to see who could eat the most of Kooky Canuck‘s seven and a half-pound Kookamonga burger in 10 minutes. One team member started, then tagged off at the 5-minute mark. At the end of 10 minutes, burgers were weighed to see who had the least left. However, the weigh-in resulted in a tie. Shawn from Kooky Canuck declared a 5-minute eat-off between the two top teams, with both teammates eating simultaneously. Congratulations to fellow blogger Buck Daddy, whose team emerged from the eat-off as the winner.

One of the cool things about the burger fest is that I got to meet a lot of people who I know from social media but have never talked to in person. Nice to meet Cordell and Tawanda from Jack Pirtle’s Chicken in particular. I heard they stepped up big time as a sponsor and played a key role in making the festival happen. It was also good to meet Heather and Greg who I know from social media, Jennifer Biggs from the CA, Todd from Memphis Dawgs, and many others.

I commented that I really didn’t know if I deserved to be a burger judge. “I surely don’t know as much about food as Jennifer Biggs,” I said. “I think that’s why they want you here,” said Kevin Cerrito from MemphiSport Live. You kind of represent the view of the average guy on the street.” That makes sense. After all, what food is more the food of the everyman than a burger?

I stayed for the awards ceremony – sorry for not taking notes on who won what, but it was raining, and I didn’t want my phone out in the rain. I’m sure the results will be on the festival website pretty soon.

After the awards I called a cab, this time using 323-3333 (Arrow Cab). Driver was there in 10 minutes and they called me when the cab arrived. Much better. Next time I have to call a cab (which will be Wednesday) I will be calling Arrow.

With Burger Fest in the books, I got Sunday Fun Day started at the Blind Bear about 4, hanging out with the lovely Walker family and a suburbanite/former Downtowner in a tube top dress and cowboy boots. I told them about the burger judging. “Did Huey’s enter?” they asked. Only six restaurant teams entered, and Huey’s was not among them. It makes sense – the average Memphian thinks of Huey’s burger as the best. Why would they put their reputation on the line and risk losing to some guy with a backyard grill?

The Best Memphis Burger winner, by the way, was not a restaurant team. That means that their burger will appear on Kooky Canuck’s menu for a week. When it goes on the menu, I definitely want to stop by there and find out if it was one of the two really good burgers in my judging boxes.

I noticed that a really good mix of ’70s and ’80s tunes was playing at the Bear. I asked the server what exactly we were hearing, and she said it was a Hall & Oates Pandora station. Never would have guessed that, but I’m creating that station on my iPad today.

I stayed for poker at the Bear at 6:30 and ended up coming in second. I’ve had a lot of second, third and fourth place finishes lately but no wins. At least I’m accumulating a lot of final table points. By the way, from time to time I get asked how much the buy-in is. All these poker games I play at bars are free to play.

It’s Monday, so Pint Nite at the Saucer is first on the agenda. Aldo’s Pizza Pies is a likely stop as well.