Jessica Haynes and her husband Michael had a little time on their hands this summer and spent it dreaming up burgers for the “Art of the Burger” competition run by the Heinz Corp. To their surprise, one of her burgers, titled the Triple Pickle Smash Burger, was named the grand prize winner last week.
She nearly missed the news that she was the big winner.
“It was an email and I didn’t recognize who the email was from,” she said. “I almost deleted it. I kind of still don’t believe it, actually. It’s a little surreal.”
Jessica Haynes is an assistant principal at TEC at Bryant and her husband teaches art at Mead High School. He was the one who first heard about the competition and started coming up with burger ideas, sketching them in what became known as the “Burger Book.” He’d recently broken his elbow and had little else he could do.
Jessica Haynes said she watched her husband become obsessed with the burgers and even mocked him a bit. Then she got the idea that maybe she could create a burger, too.
The more cocky he got about his burgers, the more competitive I got,” she said.
“I think I sketched eight to 10 (burgers),” he said. “We ended up submitting six burgers.”
The six were evenly split between his ideas and hers. There were seven different categories to enter, one for each sauce Heinz makes. The Triple Pickle Smash Burger was entered into the relish category. It includes a spicy garlic chip pickle, a dill relish and a classic dill pickle. “I decided to incorporate three different Heinz items into the burger,” she said.
But the dill relish wasn’t just squeezed out of the bottle. She made it into a smoked paprika remoulade.
“If you’re not a pickle lover, you’re not going to like it,” she said.
Both Jessica and Michael had burgers among the 56 semifinalists, though they were never told which of Michael’s creations made the cut. He intends to find out when they visit the Heinz headquarters, one of several trips they won as part of the grand prize.
“I’m going to see if I can get to the bottom of this,” he said.
As semifinalists, they both won jean jackets with burgers embroidered on the back and other prizes. Jessica Haynes said she was pleased when she heard her burger had been picked to be among the seven finalists, which were put to a public vote. She thought that was as close as she was going to get to being the winner.
Haynes said she wasn’t told how many votes her burger received. KHQ did a story while voting was underway and she said she thinks that boosted her total.
“I think the teachers went wild,” she said.
The grand prize included $25,000. Haynes said she never thought she’d win, so she hasn’t made any plans for the money yet. She also won a lifetime supply of Heinz products, a trip to Heinz headquarters in Chicago and three other two-day trips anywhere in the U.S. she wants to go.
Haynes said she and her husband will visit New York, head somewhere warm this winter and possibly visit a to-be-determined city on a day when the Gonzaga University basketball team happens to be playing there.
People have been excited about her win, Haynes said, and the No. 1 question is where people can get one of her burgers. Jon Brown, owner of the McRuins Restaurant, called and asked Haynes if he could put the Triple Pickle Smash Burger on his menu. Haynes was happy to say yes, but she had to fine tune the recipe first.
“I didn’t write it down,” she said. “I knew I put in a little of this and that in there.”
Brown said the burger is on the menu at McRuins, which is in the Saranac Commons at 19 W. Main Ave. in downtown Spokane, this week through Saturday.
“We might run it for a while if it’s successful,” he said.
Meanwhile, Haynes is enjoying all the perks that come with her win.
“I guess officially I am now titled the Heinz Head Burger Artist, a title which I now require Michael to use when addressing me,” she said.
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