Sugarfire Reigns Supreme As Judges’ Winner In ALIVE’s Annual Top Chef Competition
For the second year running, Sugarfire Smokehouse took top honors at Alive’s 6th annual Top Chef Ultimate Burger Challenge.
Though the meat was grilled instead of griddled, Sugarfire’s winning no-frills burger had all the other hallmarks of chef Mike Johnson’s restaurant version: sliced American cheese, bacon, lettuce and tomato on a pillowy-soft bun.
The five contenders vying to knock off the defending champion each came with a perfect patty—and a signature secret weapon. For Athlete Eats, it was an innovative sweet potato bun that underscored the Cherokee Street eatery’s low-carb, high-protein focus. Anthony Ellerson of The Kitchen Sink fired up judges’ taste buds with jalapenos from top to bottom, much like the Tejas burger on his restaurant’s menu.
Prime 1000’s Rachel Obermeyer anchored her burger with a hearty bun from Fazio’s and ladled on cheese sauce for a moist-but-not-soggy variation on the cheeseburger. Carl Hazel of The Scottish Arms also went a non-traditional route with his cheeseburger, piping whipped goat cheese onto a lamb-beef patty on a bed of fennel and onion jam.
The crowd favorite, Stacked, put together a beer pairing for the judges, offering jars of the same Civil Life brown ale used to glaze the caramelized onions. But even that extra effort wasn’t enough to unseat Sugarfire in the eyes of Allyson Mace, founder and publisher of Sauce Magazine; George Mahe, dining editor at St. Louis Magazine; Amy De La Hunt, contributing dining editor at ALIVE Magazine; Nancy Stiles, staff writer at The Riverfront Times; and Chris Reimer, marketing director at Kaldi’s Coffee.
A light drizzle off and on didn’t dampen the sounds of Miss Jubilee and The Humdingers or Tommy Halloran and Guerrilla Swing. And it certainly didn’t deter anyone from having fun with the washers and oversized Jenga games, or Photo Bus STL’s mobile photo booth.
View more photos from Sunday’s event in the ALIVE gallery.