Fire up for the Smackdown! Fourteen formidable restaurant contestants have thrown their spatulas into the ring for this year’s Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown. The ninth annual event goes down on Saturday, September 10, 2022. If you want to taste the possibilities, you’d better get a ticket soon. Of the 800 entries to be sold, only 100 or so are still available.
The folks behind the beautiful Edible New Mexico magazine organize this showcase for restaurants statewide. The smackdown is held on the lawn of the Beer Hall at Santa Fe Brewing’s campus-like headquarters on Santa Fe’s south side. Organizer Stephanie Cameron says the event has one simple goal, “To determine who has the best signature New Mexican burger in the state.”
AIN’T NO SMACK
While chefs compete fiercely for this honor, and the bragging rights that come along with it, there’s no talking smack at this smackdown. The restaurant teams have a great time interacting with each other and the guests. It’s friendly camaraderie at its best. In the end, awards will go to a Secret Judges selection, to a People’s Choice chosen by the day’s attendees, and — the biggest prize of the day — Reigning Chomp, selected by a panel of culinary industry experts. I’ve had the pleasure of judging the Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown a half-dozen or so times, and it’s tasty but tough work. The variety in New Mexico’s classic burger is truly fascinating. I’ve pretty much loved all of them. Well, except maybe one year’s shrimp burger entry.
The restaurants competing for 2022 come from Los Alamos, White Rock, Las Cruces, Las Vegas, Socorro, Rio Rancho, Albuquerque, and — of course — Santa Fe. Our local entries include Rio Chama, Terra at Four Seasons Rancho Encantado, Agave Lounge at the Eldorado Hotel & Spa, and Luminaria at the Inn & Spa at Loretto. Luminaria’s Chef Tony Smith won People’s Choice last year. After contemplating changing up the burger a bit this time, he decided to stay with what worked. His burger includes the basic elements required — a bun, a burger patty, cheese, and New Mexican green chile — along with aioli, avocado, and candied bacon.
Other twists on entries this time include a burger wrapped in frybread, and one topped with an entire elote (ear of Mexican street corn). There have been vegetarian burgers in past years, but this is the first with a fully vegan burger, created with a beet mixture topped with cashew cheese. Those may or may not make the final 8, to be selected in the next week. The finalists are chosen from a volunteer panel of burger enthusiasts who roam the state over a couple of months to try every restaurant’s creation before ranking their favorites.
The selected finalists can choose to use ingredients from their own sources. However, sponsors offer many of the main ingredients to offset the costs of feeding 800 hungry burger fans. Bueno chile, Bountiful Cow cheeses, and grass-fed beef from several ranches that are part of the Southwest Grassfed Livestock Alliance are all available to participants.
DON’T MISS OUT
All VIP tickets for early entrance and a burger valet to run hot burgers to waiting mouths have been sold. However, timed entry tickets for general admission, beginning at 1:30, and staggered throughout the afternoon, can still be grabbed on the website. At the event, attendees can purchase Santa Fe Brewing Company beers, as well as cocktails made by the brewing company’s new distillery.
Don’t miss your chance to attend this classic chile-licious Santa Fe event.
Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown
Saturday, September 10, 2022
Beer Hall at Santa Fe Brewing HQ
35 Fire Place, Santa Fe
For tickets and more details, EdibleSmackdown.com
12:30 p.m. VIP entry — SOLD OUT
1:30 – 5 p.m. timed entries for general admission
Story and photos by Cheryl Alters Jamison
Four-time James Beard Foundation Book Award-winning author Cheryl Alters Jamison is the host of Heating It Up on KTRC and is now the “queen of culinary content” for SantaFe.com. Find new stories about the Santa Fe food scene each week on SantaFe.com.