SYRACUSE, NY — As fairgoers pushed their way through the turn-styles on Sept. 1 at The Great New York State Fair, their nostrils were immediately filled with the grilling smells of onions, spices and ground beef wafting from the Chevy Court pavilion. Yes, Virginia, it’s the 20th anniversary of Beef Day.
New York Beef Council Director of Public Relations and Promotions Jean O’Toole said, “Beef Day’s annual celebration at the Fair is a day we can focus on the #1 protein on restaurant menus and consumer’s plates across New York State. Beef Day enables consumers to celebrate, praise and thank our cattle farming community for a job well done!”
Maria Knirk, Assistant Commissioner at New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets ushered in the historic day with an official proclamation, celebrating two decades of the beef community at the fair and honoring the beef farmers and beef industry in New York State. “Because of specialty days such as this, fairgoers have a real opportunity to learn more about where their food comes from and better understand the importance of the local beef industry to New York State’s agricultural economy as a whole,” said NYS Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball.
In addition to fair guests touring the beef barns, talking with farmers, tossing a hay bale or two and seeing animals judged, they attended the always riveting New York Beef Council’s Annual Media Grill-Off and the “Create the Perfect Burger” Contest. The grill-off, also known as the “Branding Iron Chef”, was first started in 1996 as a one man broadcast, but today, personalities from television and radio programs from the Syracuse area are challenged to create a burger masterpiece in one hour.
The media grill-masters competing were no slouches as they mixed traditional, novel and secret recipe items into the burgers for the five hungry judges. “It’s fun to compete against your peers and showcase the work the NY Beef Industry Council does to educate consumers, said Becky Palmer from Syracuse’s B104.7 country radio station. We think beef and country music naturally go together.”
After a fierce burger battle, last year’s winner from the Syracuse Time Warner news crew were dethroned by 93Q’s Rick Roberts and Jack Ryan, along with Dixon from sister station 95X, who topped the competition with a bacon infused, chipotle mayo covered burger named the ‘The Sticky Ricky’.
The decade old, “Create the Perfect Burger” contest brought 10 finalists to the barby from across the state to the Fair to compete head to head for the chance to win the grand prize of $500 and the recognition of being deemed “Perfect” by the judges. Recipes included using bleu cheese, chili and mango, mushrooms, bacon of course, jerk rubs, diverse cheeses and even apple pie.
Creative names and festive plating put the ground beef on a tasty throne for the judges. After the smoke had cleared, Mary Volcko from Camillus, NY brought home the top prize for her ‘Jamaican Me Happy Fair Burger’ besting Baldwinsville’s Anne Gavin’s bacon blue burger.
Tops Markets provided the fresh beef for the contests and partnered with the New York Beef Council and the Food Bank of Central New York in helping the Food Bank kick-off “Hunger Action” month. By encouraging fairgoers to take a selfie with a “Look What I Did, I just donated a Tops Market Hamburger” sign and post it across various social media channels using the hashtag #BeefDayFeedsNY!
For every selfie taken with the New York Beef Council sign, a burger was donated to the Food Bank of Central New York. Vincent Schiano, Public and Media Relations Specialist for Tops Markets said, “We are striving to make a difference in our communities and raise awareness on the issue of hunger”.
If you’re hankering for some great burger recipes go to www.nybeef.org/2015finalistsrecipes.aspx . For more information on the New York Beef Industry, contact them at 315-339-6922 or firstname.lastname@example.org .