Dietricha Durtschi is a self-described "recipe hound" who never actually follows any of the recipes she collects. Instead, she likes to make it up as she goes along — a trait she's had since childhood, when she taught herself how to cook.
That experimental spark is what turned her into the fifth-highest ranking burger cook in the world.
Ms. Durtschi, of Ridgeway, Mo., participated in the second annual World Food Championships in Las Vegas Nov. 7 through 10, with her husband and adult son attending as her kitchen assistants. She competed in the World Burger Championship category after winning a recipe contest on JustAPinch.com, which qualified her to be a part of the invitation-only Vegas event. There, she competed against 49 other teams in her category, including five-star chefs and professional restaurant teams, and ended up being one of the top 10 finalists.
Surprisingly, Ms. Durtschi says she doesn’t consider burgers to be her signature dish. She prefers to make homemade pastas and desserts. But encouragement from her husband prompted her to submit a recipe she likes serving at home. (Find it at justapinch.com/recipes/main-course/beef/big-stuffed-behemoth-bacon-cheese-burger.html?p=2.) It’s the burger buns that steal the show, and for good reason: they’re made out of Ramen noodles.
“I was making noodles for stir fry and I left it too long in the pan, and instead of burning they kind of congealed, and I went, ‘Hmmm,’” she says. “... They say the best ideas come from mistakes.”
After perfecting her Ramen buns by using an egg poacher as a mold, Ms. Durtschi created several different flavor combinations to go in between them. She prepared three versions to present to judges at the World Burger Championship, choosing ingredients like ground pork, tropical fruit, shrimp and lots of spices to create unique recipes that deviate from the typical cookout burger.
“I have a lot of fun with food. Why do the same thing twice?” she says.
Competing under a time limit in front of TV cameras and preparing multiple plates for a panel of judges was nerve-wracking, but she says it was an exciting experience she looks forward to repeating. Her high rank resulted in an automatic invitation to next year’s event, where she hopes to compete with a pasta recipe as well and is aiming for the $10,000 prize saved for the top finalist in each category.
“I’ve always had this passion for food. Cooking, for me, is a way of loving people,” she says.
The World Food Championships will be televised in the spring at a to-be-determined date and time. Visitworldfoodchampionships.com to learn more about this international event, and keep an eye on it in the coming months to learn which channels will be showing the event and when.
Ms. Durtschi shared the three award-winning recipes she made in Las Vegas with the News-Press. The burgers also will be available on the menu at Camaro’s Steakhouse in Bethany, Mo., which sponsored Ms. Durtschi in the competition, after Jan. 1.