2017 Burger Fest Rules

2017 Best Memphis Burger Fest – Judging Guidelines





10:25 – 10:35 AM Bloody Mary Competition Pipkin (Burger Fest Judged)
11:30 – 11:45 AM Hotdog Competition Pipkin (SCA Judged)
11:55 – 12:05 PM Veggie Burger Competition Pipkin (Burger Fest Judged)
1:25 – 1:35 PM Best Memphis Burger (Classic Cheeseburger) Competition Pipkin (Burger Fest Judged)
1:30 – 1:45 PM Wing Competition Pipkin (SCA Judged)
2:30 – 3:00 PM SCA Steak Cookoff Pipkin (SCA Judged)
3:55 – 4:05 Specialty Burger Competition Pipkin (Burger Fest Judged)

 The following criteria and scoring will be used for judging your Burger Fest turn-in entries.

Appearance: This score will be given once the cardboard round is removed from the cake box with all 4 burgers remaining together. How does the entry look? We all know you taste with your eyes before food ever hits your mouth. Visually, how appealing is it? How do the 4 burgers appear on the garnished or non-garnished cardboard round?  Garnishing can and should help accent and even differentiate the product, but judges are reminded that they’re judging the appearance of burgers, not the garnish. Garnish should only accent the entry, not mask it.

Taste: How does the entry taste? How amazing was it? Or was it not so great? Judges are encouraged to be honest and truthful an to remember the category they’re judging. Does the entry’s taste hold true to that category. They’ll be reminded not to fluff the score because they think you gave it a good try. If it’s amazing, they’ll score it as such. 

Execution: Along with the food, teams will submit a 4×6 index card with a Name for their entry and a menu style description (NOT A RECIPE) of it. For example, the Bluff City Burger from Huey’s Restaurant reads:

Chargrilled and topped with smoked cheddar cheese, crispy bacon, onion straws, BBQ sauce, shredded lettuce & pickles on a buttered, toasted Kaiser roll.

Teams are asked to be as descriptive as they want, but not to submit a recipe. 

** IMPORTANT** The Execution score is also relative to the category. Did the entry that meet the category guidelines.


1.0(Best Memphis Burger) + .75(Veggie Burger) + 1.25(Specialty Burger) = Final Burger Score. The Team with the highest burger score will be crowned Grand Champion

Category Guidelines

Veggie Burger
This category is for our vegetarian friends. A veggie burger is a hamburger-style patty that does not contain meat, but may contain animal products such as egg or milk. The patty of a veggie burger may be made from vegetables (like potato or corn), textured vegetable protein (like soy), legumes (beans), tofu, nuts, mushrooms, or grains or seeds, like wheat and flax.

  • May be served on any bread, bun, roll, tortilla, pita or cake of team’s choice
  • Veggie burger must be in the form of a patty
  • Single, double or triple patties and so on are acceptable
  • Portobello mushroom sandwiches are not permitted
  • All toppings must be vegetarian
  • Bacon is not permitted
  • Sauces and condiments are completely up to the team
  • Entries need not be vegan or gluten free

Best Memphis Burger – A Classical Cheeseburger Competition
This year our main category is a true cook-off featuring all teams starting with the same basic cheeseburger guidelines. Teams are to build a cheeseburger keeping it simple by using no more than beef, cheese, bun, pickle, onion, mayo, mustard and ketchup. Teams will elevate their turn-ins by the grilling techniques, the blends of beef, cheese(s) and seasonings they use. If it isn’t specifically listed below, it cannot be used for this category.

  • Must be served on any bread, bun or roll of team’s choice.
  • Donuts are not permitted for this category
  • Burger patties must be 100% ground beef (from a cow). Blends are acceptable.
  • Single, double or triple patties and so on are acceptable
  • Bacon is not permitted
  • Butter or margarine may be used
  • Cheese may be used
  • Teams may season their burgers however they want
  • Acceptable condiments include any Mayo, Mustard or Ketchup the team chooses
  • No other toppings beside Pickles and onions may be used

Specialty Burger
Teams should really bring their cooking and grilling creativity for this category. This is your no-holds-barred chance to build the most amazing burger imaginable. The only limits to this category are the teams’ own imagination.

  • May be served on any bread, bun, roll, tortilla, pita or cake of team’s choice
  • Any combination or blend of beef, pork, game, foul, etc, may be used. Just has to be pattied. A chicken breast sandwich would DQ’d. A chicken burger would be allowed.
  • Single, double or triple patties and so on are acceptable
  • Any variety or combination of cheeses may be used
  • Sauces, spreads, marinades and seasonings may be used
  • Any variety of bacon is permitted
  • Any topping may be used

10 am Bloody Mary

Each year Bloody Mary has gotten bigger in both participation and turn ins. 2017 should be no exception. We’re at the point now where a simple Bloody Mary with a single stalk of celery as garnish has no place at this competition. We wrote the book on awesome Bloody Mary’s and the demand for an amazing sequel grows greater each year.

We’re looking for teams to be creative, artistic, and delicious all at once and to do it by turning in one garnished presentation glass, serving pitcher, jar, container, bottle or any vessel of the team’s choosing of bloody Mary and (4) 10 oz cups for judging.

On a provided 16” round plastic serving tray, teams will turn in 4 Bloody Mary samples in 4 provided 10 oz cups. They’ll also turn in 1 fully garnished show cup (not provided). Judges will give an appearance score for your entire tray, a score for the creativity you showed with the big show cup, and a taste score for the sampling of the 4 sample cups. Judges will sit 4 to a table and score four teams at each table.

This is a family competition and ANY entry or vessel in any category deemed illicit or inappropriate by the Best Memphis Burger Staff will be immediately disqualified and removed from the festival premises. No refunds will be given.

2017 Best Memphis Burger Fest – Cooking Competition Rules


  1. All fees other than cleanup deposit are NON-REFUNDABLE.
  2. Each team is liable for any bodily or other harm as a direct result of negligence on the part of that team. By signing, you and your team members have read and agree to comply with all the Festival Rules and Regulations. You and your team members also agree to not hold Memphis Paws, Inc., Best Memphis Burger Fest, Global Spectrum Marketing, The Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium or the City of Memphis responsible for any accident or injury that may occur while at the event.
  3. All teams must adhere to all electrical, fire, and other codes, by the city, county, state, and federal codes.  Each team must have a fire extinguisher of a 2A, 40bc rating. Please check and make sure they are charged. All tarps and tents must be fire retardant with certification stating so.
  4. Each contestant must comply with all applicable rules and regulations of the Memphis and Shelby County Health Department including, but not limited to the following:
    1. Meat must be stored at 35° F or less before cooking. Coolers with plenty of ice will keep it cold enough.
    2. After cooking the burgers, they should be placed in a covered container and maintained at a safe temperature until submitted to the judges.
    3. Cleanliness of the cook, assistants, and contestant area is required.
    4. NO live animals are allowed in the cooking area. This is grounds for disqualification.
    5. Each team MUST have hand-cleaning capabilities. Soap and water or waterless hand cleaner is acceptable.
  5. Teams must cook on a grill. Charcoal, propane, flat top, skillet, smoker, Egg, oven, etc., are all legal.
  6. Each contestant must check-in upon arrival at with the festival organizers. 
  7. Electricity will be available at each team space. Water will be available only to fill buckets or pans. PLEASE DO NOT USE WATER TO WASH. IT WILL RUN INTO OTHER TEAM AREAS. NOT COOL!!!
  8. GENERATORS MAY NOT BE USED! No exceptions!
  9. Teams are to provide their own trash containers and liners for their area and are responsible of getting their trash to the dumpsters located at the festival.
  10. Any tent larger than 10’ x 10’ must pull a permit at the fire department located at 2668 Avery. The cost is $10 and must be done prior to the festival. Permits are the responsibility of the team and failure to have the proper permit may result in your tent having to be removed from the festival grounds.
  11. Clean up deposits will be shredded ONLY if your team area is left in the same physical condition as it was found. That includes picking up any and all trash, including cigarette butts and beer can tabs. Any Liberty Bowl fencing that is damaged by a team will result in a forfeit of the cleanup deposit.
  12. Teams may rent a Safety-Quip portable bathroom for their team space for an additional $100. See Application.


  1. Chefs, restaurant staff, cooking hobbyists, backyard Joe’s, tailgaters, etc. may enter cooking competitions. Memphis Paws, Inc. & Best Memphis Burger Fest reserves the right to deny any team entry into the cooking competitions and event.
  2. Food trucks may not compete at Best Memphis Burger Fest. If you want to enter your product, you must compete from a 15′ x 15′ or 15′ x 35′ cooking area, same are our teams. Basically, leave your commercial kitchen home and come compete like the rest of the teams.
  3. Each contestant must comply with all applicable rules and regulations of the Memphis and Shelby County Health Department including, but not limited to the following:
    a.  Meat must be stored at 35° F or less before cooking.
    b.  Burgers should be placed in a covered container after cooking and maintained at a safe temperature until submitted to the judges.
    c.  After cooking, all meat must be held at 140°F or above OR cooked meat shall be cooled as follows: Within 2 hours from 140°F to 70°F and within 4 hours from 70°F to 41°F or less. Meat that is cooked, properly, cooled and later reheated for hot holding and serving shall be reheated so that all parts of the food reach a temperature of at least 165°F for a minimum of 15 seconds.
    d.  Cleanliness of the cook, assistants and contestant area is required.
    e.  NO live animals are allowed in the cooking area. This is grounds for disqualification.
    f.  Each team MUST have hand-cleaning capabilities. Soap and water or waterless hand cleaner is acceptable. Facilities are available on site.
    g.  Use of any tobacco products is prohibited while handling food.
    h.  Shirt and shoes must be worn.

  4. Each team may have as many assistants as necessary. However, teams will receive a reasonable number of tickets or wristbands. Past that number, team members must pay entry fees. This is a charity event.
  5. Other than the Veggie Burger category, Burger Patties for contest entries may not be pre-cooked, sauced seasoned or maintained in any way prior to inspection at the beginning of the cooking contest. Use of any pre-cooked burger patty in competition will result in disqualification. We recognize that Veggie Burgers require some additional preparation and ask that you finish them at the festival.
    1. All competition burgers must be assembled during at the competition.
  6. Each competing team shall supply all of their own burger meat, cooking ingredients, individual cooking devices (propane or charcoal) utensils, preparation tables, etc.
  7. The only thing provided to contestants by the Best Memphis Burger Fest is a regulation cooking area and electricity.
  8. Beef burgers entered into competition must be cooked no less than medium or 145° – 150° Beef burgers prepared at a lower temperature will be disqualified from competition.
  9. Contestants are expected to turn in at least 4 of the SAME BURGERS for each category they are competing in for blind judging. Teams who submit different style burgers in the same entry box or container will be disqualified immediately.
    1. One 12x12x6 Cake Box and one 12” cardboard round insert will be provided to each team as a blind box
    2. All 4 burgers MUST be placed on the 12” cardboard insert. Failure to do so will result in disqualification.
  10. Burgers may include any combination of condiments (such as ketchup, mayonnaise, salsa, and mustard), spreads (such as tapenade and pesto), sauces (such as barbecue or hot sauce), cheeses, and toppings (such as bacon, onions, tomatoes, avocados, and lettuce). Every component of the burger must be placed between the bun or bread pieces, or served open-faced on a bread product. Unadorned wooden skewers may be used to hold burgers in place for presentation.
  11. Teams may use any garnish of their choosing only on the 12” cardboard round. Teams are asked to be reasonable with garnishes as the 12” cardboard round containing all 4 burgers will be pulled from the cake box and presented to judges for an Appearance score.
  12. There is to be not BRANDING of burger patties or buns. Any markings, symbols, or attempts made by a team to link their burger or turn-in box back to their booth or name will result in disqualification.
  13. We ask judges to not fraternize with teams on turn-in day until conclusion of judging.
  14. Judging will be done by a team of 4 persons. Only Judges, Contest Reps and necessary support staff are allowed in judging area during the judging process. No other activities are permitted in the judging area, during judging process.
    1. Judges must be willing to eat burger patties cooked between 145° – 150° Fahrenheit and Well Done 160° Fahrenheit
    2. Judges should not have an aversion to eating all foods, toppings and condiments.
    3. Judges will not have any known food allergies.
  15. The scoring system is from 2 to 10, all whole and half numbers between two and nine may be used to score an entry. 10 would be perfect, 9 is beyond excellent, 8 amazing, 7 above average, 6 average, 5 below average, 4 poor, 3 bad, and 2 inedible. A Judge may only award one 10 per criteria and only if and entry is deserving.
  16. A score of one (1) is a disqualification and requires approval by a Contest Rep. Grounds for disqualification: All judges will give a one (1) in Appearance for unapproved garnish, pooled sauce or less than 4 samples of burgers. All judges will give a one (1) in all criteria for sculptured meat, a marked turn-in container, foreign object in the container, incorrect meat. All judges not receiving a sample will give a one (1) in all criteria.
  17. The weighting factors for the point system are as follows: Execution – 1.1428; Appearance – 0.5714; Taste – 2.2858.
  18. Judges will also award each burger a subjective Impression score of 1-10 (1/2 point are permitted) which will be multiplied by a factor of 1.7143 (Taste factor + Execution factor)/2. This score will be added to each team’s Execution, Appearance and Taste scores.
  19. The low Execution, Appearance and Taste scores will be thrown out. Results will be tallied. If there is a tie in one of the categories, it will be broken by the computer, as follows: The scores will be compared (counting all FOUR judges) for the highest cumulative scores in taste, then Execution, then appearance. If still tied, then the low score, which was thrown out, will be compared and the higher of the low scores will break the tie. If still tied, then a computer generated coin toss will be used.
  20. All results are final. Teams are reminded that this is friendly burger festival and cooking competition to raise money and awareness for local animal rescue groups. Sportsmanship is required at all times.
  21. Only a completed Cooking Competition – Team Application received by Sept 10, 2017 will reserve the team a spot. The first 35 completed applications are guaranteed entry in cooking competitions. Festival officials will try to accommodate additional entries. 
  22. A Mandatory Cooks Meeting will be held at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, October 3 at High Cotton Brewing Co., located at 598 Monroe Avenue, Memphis, TN 38103
  23. Additional rules may and will be added as necessary.

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