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Food, music, celebrities add flavor to Battle of the Burgers

Food, music, celebrities add flavor to event

Thursday, August 7, 2014

By Anthony M. FUDA


The inaugural Battle of the Burgers was a real slugfest. There were great burgers at every station, and the judging was close at the event, which was Saturday at Warren Community Amphitheater.

Before the burgers were made and the judging started, a three-hour blanket of rain threatened the whole evening, but the skies cleared in time and visitors were able to eat 500 burgers in the benefit for Second Harvest Food Bank.

Tribute bands performed while the judging began. Local TV personalities, The Vindicator’s own Barb Shaffer and the cast of Discovery Channel’s “Fat ’N Furious: Rolling Thunder” — Tommy Christmas, Chuck Kountz, Steve McGranahan and Andy Pivarnik — were on hand. These judges had their work cut out for them because the competition showcased 10 of the best burgers reviewed by the Mahoning Valley Burger Review Board since 2009.

Judge Greg Bartholomew said, “Pretty much every burger was fantastic, so I was changing my scores after eating each burger to put them in correct order on the score sheet.”

The “Fat SSRqN Furious” guys judged the Classic Cheeseburger category, and each commented on how good the entry from the Magic Tree was. McGranahan said he was ready to walk off all the burgers he just judged before food coma set in.

As they were leaving, we heard Kountz say, “Where’s the ice cream?”

Day two brought another Battle with Mother Nature. We would not let her win and fought through with the River Rock Star singing competition, the hamburger-eating contest and the awards presentation.

Pat Tucci Productions ran the River Rock Star, which came down to two competitors: Theresa Lanahan, 16, and Edward Desantis, 26. They were both equally good and agreed to split the money and eight hours of recording time from Mind Rocket Recording Studio.

The John Perdue/McDonald’s hamburger-eating competition started off close with each of the five carnivores devouring from the stack of 75 McDonald’s burgers piled in front of them. Joe Martini came out victorious after inhaling 17 of the burgers. He looked like he could have eaten a couple more, but the other four each tapped out.

Nearly $3,000 worth of burgers were purchased in the two days to benefit Second Harvest. Go to for information.