March 24, 2016. Louisville, KY.   – Maurice Williams of Louisville is the winner of the 5th Annual “Derby Burger Challenge” sponsored by Kentucky Beef Council and coordinated by the Kentucky Derby Festival. Williams’ recipe for his SmoFried Cheese Stuffed Burger was selected as the overall winner after a cook-off this morning at the Kroger in Middletown.  It features ground beef stuffed with feta cheese, green pepper and Vidalia onion, all served on a toasted, brioche bun.

“I have always enjoyed cooking, even before I was very good at it,” said Williams. “I improved over the years, thanks to some tips from my father. It definitely paid off and I’m so happy the judges liked my burger.”

The Festival received dozens of submissions for the annual competition. More than 18,000 beef lovers voted online to help pick the top 4 finalists. At the final cook-off, a panel of judges determined the overall winner based on points accumulated from four factors – Taste, Appearance, Creativity and Ease of Preparation.  Sarah Allgeier, 2015 Derby Burger Champion, finished runner up with her Italian Grilled Cheese Burger.  Other finalists included Tanya Hicks of Salem, Indiana with the Banh mi Burger and Kevin Barnes of Louisville, with the Louisville Loop Burger.

 Williams’ winning Derby Burger recipe will be available to try at Kroger’s Fest-a-Ville this year during its nine-day run, as well as sampled at BeerFest presented by American Founders Bank. In May, it will be a featured menu item at Louisville’s “Over The 9” restaurant and recognized in Louisville-area Kroger stores.

 Williams also receives VIP tickets to Thunder Over Louisville, tickets to Waterfront Jam and BeerFest at Kroger’s Fest-a-Ville, as well as a $100 gift certificate to Kroger and a grilling package from Kentucky Beef Council.

From now through April 15, all purchasers of fresh ground beef at any of the Kentuckiana Kroger stores (excluding Lexington locations) will receive a code at checkout (on the bottom of the receipt).  The message encourages you to register online at www.kdf.org/beef for a chance to win VIP tickets to a Waterfront Jam Concert at Kroger’s Fest-a-Ville or BeerFest presented by American Founders Bank.

Since 1956, the Derby Festival has worked to bring the community together in celebration. The Festival is an independent community organization supported by 4,000 volunteers, 375 businesses and civic groups, Pegasus Pin sponsorships and event participation. This involvement has made the Festival the largest single attended event in Kentucky and one of the leading community celebrations in the world.

June 21 - June 21