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A winner, by the sweat of his brow

Sat., Dec. 6, 2008

Red Robin to feature 7-year-old’s hot burger creation, and charity will benefit

A Rathdrum 7-year-old won a national hamburger cooking contest Friday that will land his creation – made with jalapeños, Cajun spices, pepper jack cheese and grilled onions – in Red Robin restaurants nationwide to benefit the cause of missing and exploited children.

It could also land the Ramsey Elementary School second-grader on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” next week.

Charlie Beckett created the “Holy-Peño” burger after eating with his dad and stepmother at the Coeur d’Alene Red Robin one night. That’s where Charlie filled out a flier for “The Next Gourmet Burger Kids’ Recipe Contest,” said his father, Jeremiah Beckett.

“I like hot and spicy foods,” Jeremiah Beckett said. So Charlie “decided he was going to make a hamburger that was too hot for Dad to handle.”

The family learned this fall that Charlie’s burger was picked as a finalist from more than 14,000 submissions nationwide. That’s when Charlie, who usually prefers sports to cooking, got busy in the kitchen perfecting his recipe.

“It was a very big learning process” for Charlie, Jeremiah Beckett said. “We probably made 15 to 20 hamburgers. We had family come over to help us eat them.”

The final cook-off was held Friday in Denver. Charlie bested children ages 6 to 12, from states including Virginia, California, Illinois and Michigan. Their burgers had names like the Mango-Tango Burger, the Oh So Gouda Burger and the Cheesy Pizza Paradise Burger. The children were judged on their burgers’ appearance and potential appeal to customers, the creativity of the burgers’ names and the essays that accompanied them.

In his essay, Charlie wrote: “Some restaurants claim to have hot and spicy burgers, but only leave your mouth tingling. This burger will leave your mouth on fire and your body and face dripping with sweat.”

Jeremiah Beckett said diners who choose the Holy-Peño from Red Robin menus won’t notice just how hot the burger is until it’s too late.

“About halfway through, you notice your forehead is sweating,” he said.

Jeremiah Beckett also learned Friday afternoon that “The Tonight Show” would like Charlie to be a guest next Friday. He won’t know until next week if that will pans out.

The Holy-Peño burger will be on Red Robin menus for one month next summer, with 50 cents from every sale going to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Jeremiah Beckett said.

And the Beckett family?

They’re going to Disney World.

Part of Charlie’s prize was a family trip to Orlando, Fla.

Contact Alison Boggs at (208) 765-7132 or

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