Gourmet Burger Smashes the Competition

Gourmet Burger Smashes the Competition

| By: Britten, Casey

The people have chosen. 

With his veal smash burger, FVTC Culinary Arts student Joe Ognenoff took home the top honor—the People's Choice award—in the National Veal Collegiate Competition.

The annual competition is sponsored by Discover Veal with a culinary scholarship as the grand prize. This year’s task was to create a gourmet burger using veal. A gourmet burger uses more advanced ingredients than a standard burger, so Joe explains how he found inspiration: “I was playing around with the idea of Southern French cuisine by using herbs and a side dish from there.” He used that as a springboard to feature a wide variety of European influences, incorporating French seasoning in the burger patty, German pretzel buns, Russian pickled tomatoes, and Greek Rose wine aioli. He topped it off with caramelized mushrooms and onions as well as a Napa cabbage chiffonade.

His description sums it up: “This burger will take your mouth on a roller coaster. From the gloriously seasoned veal to the pickled tomatoes. The cooling red wine aioli to the sweetness of the caramelized onions and mushrooms. This burger may get a bit messy. Enjoy it with a side of garlic and herb chips.”

During his recovery from recent ankle surgery, Joe started questioning whether he was heading in the right career direction. “I began to feel worse because I wasn't able to cook and do the one thing I truly love to do, which is making people happy with food,” he says. “This competition made it clear to me that I am following the path that’s meant for me. It feels amazing.”

While he attends culinary school, Joe works as a chef at Becket’s in Oshkosh, where he has created a few menu specials. He plans to graduate from the Culinary Arts program in Fall 2024 or Spring 2025. “After graduation I want to study abroad as much as possible and take in as much information as possible. There are so many places that make amazing food. I never want to stop learning about it. After that I want to open my own restaurant and compete as much as possible."

"For me food is a way of life," he says. "You can create so many different dishes from one piece of meat, fruit or vegetable. All it takes is a little creativity. Anyone can cook!"