As part of the Battle of the Burgers, we asked readers to write essays telling us why they deserved a place on our Final Four judging panel. We were searching for the hungriest, heartiest, most burger-obsessed people in DFW. In 2009, our winner was Bryan Copeland, who was such a burger-lovin' fool that he had a tattoo of a burger on his right arm -- a mighty high bar to surpass. This year, we got about two dozen entries for the job of "guest taster," and we were tickled by and impressed with so many of you. Our winner, though, had two things going for her, even before we saw the cartoon that accompanied her entry. Read on.
There is one thing -- one dastardly, beguiling thing -- standing between Megan Hall and vegetarianism: the cheeseburger.
About two years ago, Megan, who does fundraising for the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, decided that a vegetarian diet would be a lot healthier for her. Her journey was going well, too, if not for those nagging dreams of juicy Kincaid's burgers. About two months into her vegetarian experiment, some of her co-workers -- all part of a devoted burger-eating gang that regularly lunched together -- decided they needed try one of the newest joints in town.
Megan, Do you want to join us at M&O Station Grill?
She went, she ordered, she burgered.
"I was thinking it would be another month [before I caved again]," said Megan, 28. "Then the next week, I fixed the craving and went to Kincaid's. It was amazing, of course."
While we love the irony of Megan's burger-loving palate, that's not the only reason she's been chosen as this year's guest taster. Along with her entry, she submitted an All the President's Men-themed cartoon that her friend created just for this year's Burger Battle. There was also the small matter of ... the spreadsheets
In her entry, she wrote: "In 2008, a group of lunch-mates turned into burger fiends, seeking out all the Fort Worth greats. Our conversations revolved around food, and I geeked out, creating a spreadsheet to quantify and 'score' all the burgers we tried. There are so many facets to consider: the quality and seasoning of the meat, the variety of sauces and toppings, quality and type of bread, toasted or not? Judging burgers is tough, but someone's got to do it!"
Geeky sensibility? Check.
Desire to execute hard-core critical analysis of food? Check.
Ability to create a spreadsheet? Double-check!
We had a winner.
Megan grew up in Keller and lives in Fort Worth. She says that by the beginning of this year, she and her burger gang had already been to a lot of the new-ish, buzzworthy burger joints. "But then all of a sudden we were hearing about Smashburger coming in, then In-N-Out ... H2, and Magnolia Motor Lounge. I can't believe how many good burger places are moving in to Fort Worth," she says. Among her favorites: Kincaid's, Fred's and Dutch's ("Oh, those rolls!"), and in Dallas, Angry Dog.
Her ideal burger? "Really traditional: just a cheeseburger, lettuce, tomato, onions and pickle. I pretty much do straight cheeseburgers every time."
Straight cheeseburgers, for the would-be vegetarian. Megan laughs. "I don't try to say I'm a vegetarian; it's complicated," she says. "Luckily a lot of my closest friends are vegetarians or vegans, but they don't give me too hard of a time about it."