Harrah’s kicks off season with meaty challenge
Harrah’s Chef de Cuisine Ben Vosburg said the burger challenge was something fun and creative needed to help kick off thoroughbred season and to increase awareness of the Market Place Café, located inside of the casino.
Earlier last month, local television and radio personalities had one hour to devour the burger challenge and eat as much food as possible to claim bragging rights.
The big burger is constructed with two lean ground beef patties that are hand-pressed into 12-inch cake pans and cooked to order on a large griddle. Vosburg’s team selected the burger’s toppings – 16 slices of cheddar cheese, half a pound of bacon, sautéed onions and 15 jalapeno bombers (jalapenos cut in half lengthwise, seeded, breaded with Japanese-style breadcrumbs and then fried) plus an extra atop the bun. The brioche bun is baked at The Downs’ in-house bakery that provides all of the property’s breads, pastries, cakes and sweets. Together, the burger and fries weigh in at 7 pounds and are served on a 14-inch pizza pan.
While Goins did not complete the entire sandwich, she did edge out her competition by 1 ounce.
Other contestants included Marquel Sennet of KMSS Fox 33, T.W. Starr of KTBS 3, Ali Aaron of KQHN i97.3, and Michael Burnley of KTAL 98 Rocks.
But the real star of the show was the bigchallenge bite – the 4 pound burger. The entire meal consisted of 1 pound of toppings, 2 pounds of fries and a 24-ounce soft drink.
Vosburg and his team brainstormed and researched, and “Chef Ben’s Big Burger Challenge” was created. Vosburg said the challenge was inspired by the Travel Channel show “Man v. Food,” where host Adam Richman takes on a variety of eating challenges across the country.
Vosburg said data pointed to burger contests as the most popular, and the big burger beat out several other ideas, including a barbecue burrito challenge and a hot dog challenge. Vosburg said he likes lending his name to the burger. “It’s cool, definitely ups my celebrity status,” he laughed.
Vosburg, who has been working as a hotel/casino chef for 12 years, has worked at Sam’s Town Hotel and Casino Shreveport in addition to Harrah’s.
He said he discovered his love of cooking as a child. “I probably started at age 10 or 11,” he said. “I realized I could cook better than my mother.”
Heading into the burger contest, Goins thought it would be a battle between the guys. She quickly realized Aaron was her biggest competition. “We could tell we were the eaters in the group. We kind of inspired each other,” Goins said.
“I had a strategy to eat meat first, because that’s the heaviest part of the sandwich. They based [the winner] on weight,” Goins said. “I thought if I eat a big chunk every minute or two, I could get more down.”
Goins said it was a struggle to eat toward the end of the contest. When the 60-minute time limit was reached and the contest was called, she had eaten a few jalapeno poppers and only a handful of the hamburger remained. She left the bun and fries untouched.
Aaron placed second in the competition.
“Adria was my motivation. Every time I looked at her, she was taking another bite,” Aaron said.
Aaron said she enjoyed the burger. “It was really good. It had a lot of flavor, especially the jalapeno bombers,” she said.
No one has consumed the entire “Big Burger Challenge” at the time of press. Challengers should head over to the Market Place Café in Harrah’s Louisiana Downs to attempt to take down this beast of a burger.
Finish the burger, fries and drink in 60 minutes or less, and the meal is on the house. The retail cost of the burger is $57.
The café is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Monday and Wednesday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday through Saturday. It is closed on Tuesdays.