The Washington Post

Falls Church mom wins $100K burger contest

Big winner: Jennifer Beckman’s Screen Porch Burger. (Dan Mills)

Jennifer Beckman takes the big check Wednesday in Chicago. (Megan Steffen)

Beckman says she “caught a break” in what she perceived to be the judges’ preference for nostalgia this year. “I liked my burger last year. I think a big part of this was luck; if your idea isn’t right for the judges, your recipe won’t play through.”

This was only the second time she’d entered this particular burger cook-off. Last year, she served up a chorizo burger with Salvadoran slaw that didn’t even make the finals.

Beckman had kind words to say about the other finalist burgers, whose flavors included chimichurri, ancho chili, brown sugar and bacon (“c’mon, who wouldn’t want to eat that?”); avocado, chipotle and bacon; ingredients of the classic Vietnamese sandwich, refashioned as a “banh moo” (“cute!”); and sliders topped with kimchi and a fried quail egg.

The still-flabbergasted Beckman informed us that this is the third recipe contest she’s won in 2011. Her Tennessee Onion Soup Gratin took top honors at April’s 15th annual National Cornbread Cook-Off held in South Pittsburg, Tenn. Instead of collecting the prize — a FiveStar gas range — Beckman asked appliance manufacturer and cook-off co-sponsor Brown Stove Works to instead donate $2,000 to victims of the tornadoes that devastated parts of Tennessee in the spring.

About a month later, Beckman beat more than 3,499 other entries in Crisco Olive Oil’s contest of Mediterranean-inspired recipes. Her Lavender Olive Oil Cake and a personal essay are sending Beckman and her husband, Peter, to the Amalfi Coast next month.

Could there be more wins in her immediate future? “I don’t want to jinx anything, but I do have entries in other contests,” she said. Beckman’s advice for those interested in throwing their hats into the recipe contest ring: “Make sure your entry conforms to the small print.”

The Food section’s not surprised at Beckman’s recipe success: We ran her holiday entertaining recipes for Warm Scallion Crab Dip With Wonton Chips and Green Curry Aioli back in 2006.

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