Dining With Denise Neil

Wichita burger battle produces unexpected new champion

Chef offers upscale lunch fare for Koch employees

Bill Crites is the executive chef at 37 West, an upscale restaurant inside the Koch Industries campus.
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Bill Crites is the executive chef at 37 West, an upscale restaurant inside the Koch Industries campus.

When local burger aficionados compose their lists of the best burgers in Wichita, country clubs don’t tend to make it on.

But at Saturday’s ICT Burger Battle, a yearly fundraiser for KETCH that features Wichita restaurants trying to impress the masses – and the judges – with their burger making abilities, a country club took one of the top two prizes.

Well-known Wichita chef Paul Guerrero and his crew from The Grill at Reflection Ridge, a golf club at 7700 Reflection Ridge Road, won the judges’ award for their crazy burger that was garnished on top with four jalapeno poppers. (Good news. The Grill is open to the public, and they're serving the winner as the craft burger of the month.)

Dempsey’s Burger Pub, whose new chef Bill Crites is obviously settling in nicely, took the People’s Choice award for its unique burger, a Creekstone pork shoulder bahn mi burger.

I was one of the judges, and I tasted all the burgers entered on Saturday. It wasn’t an easy decision.

Saturday also wasn’t an easy day for planners of downtown food events. Burger Battle organizers had the foresight to move the event, which had been scheduled for outside at the WaterWalk, into the parking garage by the old Gander Mountain. It’s a good thing they did, too, because it started pouring and thundering just before the event started. A parking garage isn’t the most scenic setting for such an event, but the participants and attendees made the best of it.

ICT Bloktoberfest also was plagued by rain and wind, though lots of people attended and had fun listening to a polka band and drinking beer. I participated in the King Wiener competition at the event and spent most my time trying to prevent my tent from blowing away. That’s October for you.

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