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Food and Beverage

Five Cheyenne Restaurants Impacted By Coronavirus Cases

in News/Coronavirus/Food and Beverage

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By Ellen Fike and Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Employees at five Cheyenne restaurants have either tested positive for or are suspected of having the coronavirus, city officials announced late Tuesday.

The Cheyenne/Laramie County Health Department identified the five restaurants with employees who have tested positive for the virus or have been diagnosed with probable cases as Red Lobster, Buffalo Wild Wings, Accomplice Beer Company, Wyoming Rib and Chop House and the Tortilla Factory on South Greeley Highway.

Anyone who has visited any of those five restaurants in the last seven days and developed a cough, congestion, loss of smell or taste, headache or fever should contact their health care provider immediately, the department said.

In a Facebook post, Tortilla Factory said it will close its restaurant on South Greeley Highway until at least July 5 due to the employee’s diagnosis. Curbside pickup will still be allowed at that location.

“During this difficult time Tortilla Factory South appreciates the patience and understanding of our customers,” the post read.

Accomplice Manager Rory Sandoval also took to Facebook to address the situation, noting the restaurant would be closed until Thursday afternoon to allow county health officials to conduct proper contact tracing. Two employees from the brewery and restaurant tested positive for the virus.

“During the two days closed the brewery has been thoroughly sanitized,” Sandoval wrote. “County health officials have released some of our staff to return to work and many have been instructed to stay home for 10-14 days dependent on test results.”

Accomplice’s seating capacity and hours will be reduced due to the positive cases.

Kathy Emmons, executive director for the Cheyenne/Laramie County Health Department, said the department decided to share the names of the restaurants so patrons would be aware they might have been exposed to coronavirus.

“We were concerned about making sure that people who may have been in those restaurants, if they were to become ill, I don’t want them to just ignore those symptoms,” she said. “It’s kind of a public health heads up. We didn’t want to shame anybody.”

Emmons praised the restaurants involved for their willingness to work with the department.

“And I have to say the restaurants involved have been incredibly cooperative,” she said. “They’re concerned about their patrons and staff also.”

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Five-Star Cuisine At Miners & Stockmen’s Steakhouse in Tiny Hartville, Wyoming Is Worth The Drive

in Food and Beverage

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Mark DeLap/Guernsey Gazette 

HARTVILLE – It’s fine dining at its best and well worth the drive. From Nebraska. Or South Dakota. Or Colorado. Or one of the many other states people come from to experience this unique five-star handmade cuisine.

“It was incredible,” said Jessica Dudgeon who resides in Russell Springs, Ky. “And with the beauty of the area and the quaintness of the establishment, it was perfect. And… are all the people in Wyoming this friendly?”

Dudgeon, like most of the patrons who come to experience this out of the way gem, walked away stuffed, raving about the meal and carrying a doggy bag.

Scott and Christy Harmon who purchased the establishment from Scott’s sister and brother-in-law, have owned the business for almost seven years. The couple both grew up in Los Angeles and lived there most of their lives.

The move from one of the biggest cities in the world to one of the smallest was a dream come true for Scott. At the same time, it took some getting used to for Christy.

“He loved it, but it took me a little while,” she said. “Winter is entirely different here than it is in California. I didn’t know snow and cold, and I mean, this is a hearty place.”

Add to the change in climate the fact neither one had any experience in the restaurant business.

“I can remember as a child, we would take family vacations every summer to Jarbridge, Nevada,” Scott said. “It was a small town where everybody knew one another. We used to cook out and enjoy our family and it was always a dream to live in a town like that.”

The couple packed up, lock, stock and barrel and made the move. With that move there was the risky endeavor of running a fine-dining restaurant. In a town of fewer than 100 and where the closest big city is Casper, which is 130 miles away. The first question would be, “why?”

“We just figured we wanted to move out of California and my brother-in-law and sister had this place up for sale,” Scott said. “We came out and looked at it, and six months later, here we were.”

The previous owners, who transformed it from a burger joint to a steak house, began to gain popularity with the local clientele who really had no experience with fine dining establishments in the area. Due to health issues, a change needed to be made and that change came by way of the L.A. Harmons two years after it was initially put up for sale.

“My sister lives 10 miles up the road,” he said.

The business didn’t sell because, as Christy said with a laugh, “Buy a business in the town of 62 people. It is considered kind of risky. They tried to talk us out of it because it’s a restaurant in the middle of nowhere.”

According to Scott, his sister and brother-in-law had tried to talk the siblings out of the purchase “a whole bunch of times.”  He also mentioned it most likely wouldn’t have been a good thing for relatives to be involved in business dealings.

“What if it didn’t work?” Scott said. “And then they’d feel guilty and we’d be mad at them. It probably wasn’t the best idea, but we figured, what the heck, it’s semi-retirement. It’s only four days a week, right? But four days a week in a restaurant still turns into a 60, 70-hour week. Even if you’re only open 20.”

Although the establishment is open only Thursday through Sunday from 5 -10 p.m., the couple rarely has that retirement time off they had dreamed about. There are the other chores associated with owning a restaurant. Things like the books, ordering, payroll and upkeep and maintenance, which they also do themselves.

“We do repairs, cleaning, cleaning and cleaning,” Christy said in that dry sense of humor that helps when things are sometimes challenging.

“Also, 9:30 after feeding 70 people it’s a long day,” Scott added.

When the coronavirus hit and the Wyoming Department of Health mandated that all restaurants close, their venture got to be a little more of a risky business. The couple adapted and with quick thinking, began to think outside of the dining room.

“We started selling groceries and whatever we could get our hands on,” Scott said, and then Christy chimed in and augmented his statement, “Selling groceries, a little bit of take-out Saturdays and Sundays and breakfast burritos.”

Without missing a beat, Scott added, “I make the best breakfast burritos.”

The couple sold things on social media and by word of mouth. To their credit, it was difficult, but they never laid off their seven employees. They also credit their many loyal customers who have grown right along with the reputation of the successful business. They also have repeat customers coming from as far away as Casper, Scottsbluff, Cheyenne, Denver and Colorado Springs.

The coronavirus took a toll on every small business owner. Although it wounded this great establishment, they couple stuck together, laced up their bootstrings and not only made it through, but also stayed strong for a community in crisis.

The couple speak in perfect and fluent “Harmon” and are seamless in their conversation to others. The dream of the Harmon empire began for each of them in middle age.

“We didn’t meet until we were in our forties, although we grew up five miles from each other all our lives,” Scott said. “We grew up in Glendale about three miles from the Rose Bowl.”

When anyone relocates to the area and asks where to go for fine food and great steaks, the answer, more often than not is, “Miners in Hartville.” All to the credit of a couple that had never run a restaurant.

When asked who does the cooking, Scott’s smile goes ear to ear without him saying a word. Looking and acting more like a salty sea captain, you would never expect him to be the chef of steaks so tasty and mouthwatering.  He has two secrets he adds to what he knows about cuisine.

One, he is a perfectionist in everything from how to cut the lettuce to being able to add the “holy trinity of celery, onion and garlic” to his homemade soups.

Two, he is somewhat a prodigy when it comes to steak and preparing it.

“I’m kind of a perfectionist, I guess,” he said. “Everything has to be just right. I can’t take all the credit, though, we buy the best beef that we can. We buy only black angus prime, and the aging has to be right. I won’t touch a steak unless it has aged at least 35 days. And then I do my own additional aging and I can guarantee they are well aged.”

Taking also into consideration the area this business is in, they are competitive with their prices. Perhaps even 50% less than most bigger cities, and you get the entire meal with no add-on costs, with the exception of dessert and drinks.

The chef’s mentor was his grandfather who taught him how to cook.

“He didn’t own a place, but he was very particular about his meat and he always wanted me to help him cook,” he said. “Especially when he got older, and we did an awful lot of grilling. And then when the kids were in high school, they all wanted to start at our house so I could cook for them. Never know what high school kids are going to do, so it’s always good to send them out with a full belly.”

Although Christy half-jokes about the challenges of working together to run a business with a spouse, this couple makes it work. They have that uncanny ability to give you a fine dining experience with food that tastes as if it were prepared by the finest culinary chefs in the world, and yet they move in and out of the kitchen mingling and talking with guests, making sure things are perfect and it reminds you of eating at home with family.

Add to the taste of good food and friendly hosts, the ambiance of the Old Wyoming West complete with an 1800s jailhouse off the outside eating area and the fact that you are surrounded by legendary Wyoming hills.

One more item of significance is the fact that the huge ornately carved German-made bar, built in 1862 by four German brew masters, is the oldest bar in the state of Wyoming.

The word has gotten around and people are usually wall-to-wall.  It may be one of the best kept secrets in the west, located in southeastern Wyoming along the east slope of the Laramie Range which is the front range of the Rockies.

“You don’t need reservations,” Scott said, “But if you don’t you may not get a table.”

And not getting a table at this iconic restaurant would be tragic.

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Sheridan Police Release Body Cam Footage In Brewery Incident

in News/Coronavirus/Food and Beverage

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Sheridan Police Department has released body camera footage detailing an encounter with a brewery owner last week.

On May 13, Smith Alley Brewing Co. owner Tiffany McCormick hosted a Facebook livestream where she told of an incident she had with Sheridan police earlier in the day.

McCormick told viewers that Police Chief Rich Adriaens and another uniformed officer told her that if her business didn’t comply with health regulations, it would be fined and its license could be revoked.

This was due to the fact that Smith wasn’t requiring her staff to wear face coverings, one of the 21 mandates required by Sheridan County and the state for restaurants and breweries to reopen.

In her original video, McCormick stated she wouldn’t ask her staff to wear masks, citing the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act.

On Thursday, a SPD spokesman countered that neither police officer threatened Smith with closure.

“We’re trying to seek compliance through education, warnings and citations as an absolute last resort,” Lt. Tom Ringley said to Cowboy State Daily. “When we got the complaint on Wednesday, Chief Adriaens and the second officer went and met with the owners to educate them on what the standard was and how they weren’t in compliance.”

In the video shared by SPD on Wednesday, Adriaens and the officer enter the brewery and begin talking with a manager, letting her know they received a complaint about staff not wearing masks. The manager confirms this and isn’t wearing a mask herself.

Soon, McCormick joins the conversation, asking Adriaens how he’s able to enforce and fine business owners. When he asks if she’s read the county order, she confirms she has.

“If you want me to write you a violation, if you want me to shut you down, that’s great,” he says. “We don’t want that. We just want you to comply with the order.”

When McCormick asks for clarification of which order Adriaens is referring to, he cites the variance issued for the county that allowed restaurants and bars to open.

She also inquires about HIPAA and ADA laws, stating that if an employee refuses to wear a face covering, she can’t question them or require them to do so. The police chief responded that McCormick also didn’t have to employ anyone who refuses to wear a mask.

The chief reiterates that if McCormick didn’t follow the rules, she would be in violation of the variance order and could be shut down.

In an interview last week, Ringley noted that the same day McCormick’s Facebook video was posted, a Sheridan officer on foot patrol checked in on the brewery and saw employees were wearing masks.

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Girl Scouts Of Montana And Wyoming Relaunch Cookie Program

in News/Food and Beverage

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming have decided that the region needs a little more sunshine, or maybe a Samoa or two, to brighten its days.

On Friday, the regional council for the Girl Scouts relaunched their famous cookie program, distributing pre-ordered cookies and allowing for sales for the next couple of months.

Varieties up for grabs include Samoas, Thin Mints, Tagalongs, Do-si-dos, Trefoils, Lemon-Ups, S’mores and Toffee-tastic. Most of the cookies cost $4 per box.

GSMW spokeswoman Kristi Osterlund recommended finding a local Girl Scout to buy cookies from or checking out the council’s website for information on how to purchase cookies. It’s suggested that a credit card be used to pay for the cookies rather than cash.

There are around 9,200 Girl Scouts participating in the sales in both Wyoming and Montana.

While booth sales, where scouts sell boxes in front of stores such as Walmart, technically relaunch on Friday, there are likely going to be some changes to this approach, Osterlund said.

“A lot of stores have changed their procedures and the girls can’t set up booths outside of them right now,” she said. “The girls are going to have to get creative and figure out how to sell while taking proper precautions. We don’t know how things will change, but our first priority is the girls’ safety.”

She noted that the council ordered a large amount of cookies earlier in the year for scouts to sell door-to-door or through booth sales, so there are still “plenty” available to disperse throughout the two states. Osterlund added she wouldn’t be surprised if girls continued selling through the summer, due to the ready supply of cookies.

Customers were “very satisfied” with the relaunch over the weekend, with some finally receiving cookies after ordering them in early February, Osterlund said.

Although the program has relaunched and people are excitedly lining up to buy cookies, Osterlund wanted to remind buyers that there’s more to the purchase besides them receiving some delicious treats.

“I really hope people will think outside the box, literally and figuratively, when they’re buying these cookies,” she said. “But the money actually goes back to the scouts and provides programming for them. We also provide financial aid for girls who may not be able to afford certain things in scouting. We believe the Girl Scouts is an amazing experience for girls, so the money coming in from the cookie sales is going towards so much more than people can imagine.”

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Wyoming Craft Brewers Guild To Hold Virtual Festival Saturday

in News/Coronavirus/Food and Beverage

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Michelle Forster believes in beer.

As executive director of the Wyoming Craft Brewers Guild, Forster knows how important beer is to American and world history. Important life decisions have been made after having a frosty mug of beer. Beer brings people together. Beer is an essential part of American life.

So when the coronavirus pandemic began shutting down craft breweries across the state and country, Forster began to worry. The majority of taprooms in the state depend on onsite consumption. Whie the guild can provide some assistance for its members, with no funds coming in, it’s hard to have any go out.

But in the last few weeks, the guild has created something that might help out, if even for another month.

The Wyoming Craft Brewers Guild will host a virtual festival, “Keep WY Brewing,” on Saturday afternoon from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The festival is a fundraiser for the guild, since in its work to keep Wyoming craft breweries’ doors open, it now needs a little assistance itself.

Tickets range in price from a $10 general admission ticket to a $300 sponsorship.

It might seem strange to hold a virtual festival and charge money to attend it, but Forster said it’s been a unique event popping up in more and more states over the last few weeks.

“Every week, I talk with craft brew guild directors across the country and we’ve been trying to find creative ways to support the industry,” she said.

A general admission ticket will get an attendee admission to the event’s private Facebook page. The “gates” will open at 1 p.m. Saturday, with livestream chats, virtual tastings, virtual brewery tours, trivia and drinking games taking place throughout the afternoon. Anyone who purchases a VIP ticket will gain admission to the after-party Zoom chat that will be held from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

The organizers are encouraging Wyomingites to pick up some of their favorite craft brewers’ products curbside or to-go to sip while watching so they can properly join in the festivities.

Forster hopes the guild will raise around $2,000 in ticket sales from the festival.

“Craft breweries are in danger, some of them might not be able to open up after this,” she said. “Craft breweries are often centers of giving back to their community and we want to support them. They’re more important now than ever.”

The WCBG is a nonprofit founded in 2014. Its purpose is to engage, assist in and contribute to the enhancement of public awareness of craft brewing in Wyoming and to foster the relaxation of regulatory restrictions on the distribution of craft brewers’ products.

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Restaurants and Bars to Open in Goshen, Niobrara, and Uinta Counties

in News/Coronavirus/Food and Beverage

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Three more Wyoming counties have won state approval for their plans to allow the limited operations of restaurants and bars.

The State of Wyoming has approved the variances requested by Goshen, Niobrara and Uinta counties to reopen bars and restaurants with certain restrictions. Also approved was a request to allow churches to hold services in Goshen and Uinta County — a request approved earlier this week for Niobrara County.

In Goshen County, the variance will allow restaurants, coffee houses, bars and similar businesses to serve their customers at outside tables, as long as certain safety measures are observed.

Those include limiting the number of people at a table to six, placing tables six feet apart, requiring staff to wear face coverings and disinfecting the business three times a day.

Goshen County also won approval for a variance to allow churches to operate even though the state’s ban on gatherings of more than 10 people remains in place until at least May 15.

Safety rules will require household groups attending services to remain at least six feet away from other household groups and will require church staff members having regular contact with the public to wear face masks.

In Uinta and Niobrara counties, restaurants, bars and similar businesses will be able to seat customers inside, as long as the same safety rules as those in place for Goshen County and others that have son approval for similar variances are observed.

State officials also approved Uinta County’s request to increase the limit on the size of groups to 20 people and to allow churches and funeral homes to conduct services under the safety guidelines.

In all cases, staff members at restaurants, bars and churches must be screened for symptoms of coronavirus and to determine whether they have been in contact with anyone with a confirmed case of the illness.

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Favorite Super Bowl Recipe in Wyoming? Ground Beef

in Food and Beverage

On Tuesday, Google released a list of the top recipes that Americans have searched for in the last week to determine the most popular Super Bowl foods in every state.

Just yesterday, we noted that cows outnumber people by a 2-1 margin in Wyoming.

So is it really a surprise that Wyoming’s favorite Super Bowl main dish has ground beef in it?

Some apparently think ground beef is boring.

One individual tweeted, “Just ludicrous that the whole state of Wyoming could only come up with ground beef as their Super Bowl recipe.”

Others on Twitter seemed to be genuinely offended at our favorite Super Bowl recipe.

“What the hell is Wyoming doing serving plain ole ground beef?” tweeted Mr. Ray785

“What the hell Wyoming? Just cooking ground beef and not doing anything,” said Anthony Merkle. 

Hey Anthony, how do you know we’re not doing anything with the ground beef?

I just Googled “ground beef recipes” and immediately found 70 recipes with ground beef in them like Cheeseburger Pizza, Pesto Bolognese Lasagna, and Grilled Cumin-Rubbed Hanger Steak with Smashed Minty Peas and Grilled Bread.

You read that right, Anthony. Maybe some of us are making Grilled Cumin-Rubbed Hanger Steak with Smashed Minty Peas and Grilled Bread on Super Bowl Sunday.

Sure, ground beef on its own may not be flashy. But let’s examine some other states.

Let’s start with our neighbor Idaho. Their favorite Super Bowl side dish? Potato.

Really, Idaho?

Another neighbor of ours – Nebraska – prefers Cream Cheese Jalapeño Hamburger. 

How is it even possible that a sizable number of people in Nebraska even know what that is? They say the N on the Cornhuskers football helmet stands for knowledge so maybe it’s correct.

Our neighbor to the north picks Bacon Shrimp as their favorite appetizer. That’s solid.

And New Mexico selects Green Chicken Enchilada as their favorite main dish. Another worthy selection.

But if Wyoming is going to be criticized for picking ground beef then the critics must denounce Alabama and Indiana as well. Chicken. That’s the best they can do?

Ground beef is ‘Merca. I know that because Sam Elliott says it is. It’s what’s for dinner. Wyoming rules.

Proposed increase in alcohol tax rejected by committee

in News/Taxes/Food and Beverage
alcohol tax

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A bill that would have doubled the alcohol taxes in Wyoming was rejected on Wednesday by a legislative committee.

The bill lost by one vote, with seven members of the Joint Labor, Health and Social Services Committee voting against it and six members voting to move it forward to the full Legislature.

The bill considered by the committee during its meeting in Cheyenne would have doubled the excise tax on alcohol — from three quarters of one cent to 1.5 cents per 100 milliliters of wine, from 2.5 cents to five cents per 100 milliliters of spirits and from one-half cent to one cent per liter of beer — for three years. 

The money raised from the increase, estimated at $1.9 million a year would have been split, with half going to the Department of Health to fund behavioral programs that provide mental health and substance use treatment. The other half would have been used by the Department of Corrections for the purpose of providing mental health and substance use treatment for parolees and people who have been released from an institution. 

It would have been the first increase in alcohol taxes since the end of Prohibition in 1933.

Even with the increase, Wyoming’s alcohol taxes still would have been the lowest in the nation, Rep. Mike Yin,  D-Jackson, pointed out during the meeting. 

The discussion drew passionate pleas from both elected officials and members of the public, with Sen. Charles Scott, R-Casper, being one of the major proponents of moving the bill forward. 

“We’ve identified a real need for substance abuse treatment for the public and our inmates,” he said. “By identifying that need, we should fund it.”

According to a University of Wyoming study, alcohol abuse cost the state more than $840 million in 2010 due to lost productivity, health care costs and criminal activity.

However, some legislators simply did not support any tax increase.

Rep. Clarence Styvar, R-Cheyenne, admitted before the vote even took place that he would say “nay” to the proposed bill. 

“We don’t need to be taxing one group of people,” he said. “I said it last year when they tried to raise the tobacco prices. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: ‘No new taxes.’”

Others expressed concern that the tax income, once raised, might be used for purposes other than what were intended.

Mike Moser, executive director for the Wyoming State Liquor Association, argued other resources are available for those suffering from substance abuse and mental health problems.

“We’re asking responsible consumers of alcohol, the vast majority, to be forced to pay for substance abuse when so many of these cases don’t have anything to do with alcohol and mental health programs,” he said. “This isn’t apples and oranges. I believe we’re targeting a select, responsible few to cover the entire gamut.”

Moser also argued that the tax increase could hurt alcohol sales to “price-sensitive” Wyoming consumers and said those along Wyoming’s southern border might drive to Colorado to purchase their alcohol.

Wyoming is one of 17 “control states,” meaning that the state has a monopoly over the wholesaling or retailing of some or all alcoholic beverages.

Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, said the bill’s supporters seemed to imply that alcohol was bad, yet the state has a monopoly on selling it.

“We’re not saying alcohol is inherently bad,” Scott replied. “We’re saying that it has a risk and somebody has to pay the price of it. That risk should be taxed.” 

Beer tasting on tap in Saratoga on Saturday

in Travel/Food and Beverage

By Cowboy State Daily

Beer lovers with a taste for Wyoming and Colorado brews will want to head to Saratoga this weekend for the Saratoga Hot Springs Resort’s sixth annual Snowy Mountain Brewery Beerfest.

More than a dozen vendors offering up their beers and spirits will be featured at the beer tasting festival inside the courtyard at the resort on Saturday.

Tiffany Jones, the director of marketing for the Saratoga Hot Springs Resort, said the annual event will draw people from around the region, with some coming from as far away as Casper and Colorado to attend the event.

“We’ve had one couple from Rock Springs come to every one,” she said.

The day will begin at 10 a.m. with a golf tournament, which is open to the public, at the resort’s 9-hole golf course, which crosses the North Platte River several times.

The beerfest will begin at noon. Each attendee will pay $30 for a pint glass, decorated with the event’s logo, which can be used to sample as many beers as the holder wishes.

“Some beerfests only give samples,” Jones said. “We have no restrictions. We give you a pint glass and you can have as many beers as you like.”

The beerfest is named for the Snowy Mountain Brewery, which is located inside the resort’s main building and operates a pub there.

The beerfest will feature live music by Third Rail, a Cheyenne band performing country and classic rock.

This event is open only to those age 21 and over.

For more information, visit the Saratoga Hot Springs Resort’s website.

Laramie food truck wins top honors at national wing contest

in News/Food and Beverage

The owner of a Laramie food truck was recognized recently as creating the best traditional buffalo wing sauce in the country in a national competition held at the home of the buffalo wing.

Trent Weitzel, the owner of “Double Dubs” food truck, which specializes in wings, won four awards at the Buffalo Wing Festival held in Buffalo, New York, over the Labor Day holiday.

“The big one is the traditional medium sauce category,” said Drew Cerza, the celebration’s founder who has earned the title ‘Wing King.’ “That was the original sauce created in 1964 at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo. (Double Dubs) won first place in that. That’s a really good one.”

Double Dubs also placed second for traditional barbecue sauce and third for extra hot traditional sauce and claimed the event’s “rookie of the year” title.

For Weitzel, the appearance at the festival was the result of several years of work and a good word from a former customer.

Weitzel, who started his food truck business about six years ago, had contacted Cerza for the past four to five years to see if he could get a spot among the restaurants competing at the festival.

“At the end of the day, he didn’t have anybody to vouch for me for how good the chicken wings were,” he said.

So Weitzel contacted an old customer — former University of Wyoming Quarterback Josh Allen, who is now the quarterback for the Buffalo Bills football team — to ask him to put in a good word for him.

“(Weitzel) called me this year and said ‘Before you give me a no, hear me out — have you ever heard of a guy named Josh Allen?’” Cerza said. “Five minutes later, don’t I get a call from Josh Allen. And Josh introduces himself and says ‘I’m Josh Allen and I just wanted to put a plug in for my boys out there from Wyoming.’”

As a result, Double Dubs is the first food truck company to have competed in the contest, Cerza said.

Cerza said the most impressive award for Double Dubs was the first place for best traditional medium buffalo sauce.

The sauce must be based on the original recipe created in Buffalo, which was a mixture of Frank’s Red Hot cayenne pepper sauce and butter, Cerza said.

The sauce was one of eight Weitzel took to Buffalo for the competition.“All of the sauces I’ve created and made are 100 percent one-offs,” he said. “The original recipes and everything.”

Weitzel’s path to glory in the wing set began more than 14 years ago, when he started cooking wings in his back yard. He then expanded to providing wings for backyard barbecues and football parties before opening up the Double Dubs food truck about six years ago.

“My specialty is the sauces I create,” he said. “I tell people I’m retired. I really don’t work. This is a lot of fun to me.”

And The Wiener Winner Is…

in Community/Food and Beverage

Labor Day Hot dog Eating Contest in Mills

By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily

MILLS — On a hot Labor Day afternoon, crowds gathered at Riverfront Park, on a bend of the Platte River. Some were there for food trucks, cold beer and a car show. But most were there to witness a ritual of Labor Day, a hot dog eating contest.

Last year saw the first annual “Wyoming Hot Dog Eating Championship,” organized by food truck owner Ticker Lock. The event’s first champions were Billy Floyd of Casper and Stephanie Wu of Carson City, Nevada. Floyd ate an amazing 13 wieners and buns while Wu ate 11 to win the men’s and women’s competition and set the mark to beat for the second installment of the holiday classic.

Winners were competing for custom made belts, but mostly for bragging rights. 

Before the competition would begin, there was a car show put on by “Pop In The Shop.” a Christian mentoring group that teaches fatherless boys age 7 to 17 about classic car restoration in the group’s shop on Yellowstone Highway in Casper. The show attracted nearly 20, hotrods, rat-rods and fully restored vehicles.

The contest itself began at 6 p.m., as contestants gathered around tables, bins loaded with hotdogs and buns. The rules were simple — eat as many wieners and buns in 11 minutes as possible. As the countdown to b begin reached zero, the food fight for the belts raged. 

The seven men and two women competing gobbled their way to hot dog immortality. There were different strategies at play. There was the “grab and squish,” trying to make the bun and wiener as compact and easy to consume as possible. Others went for the multi-bite attack, taking a series of rapid bites before briefly chewing and swallowing. 

The most popular method was the “dunk and down,” Bottles of water on the tables were used to soak the buns and make them less bulky both in the mouth and more importantly, in the stomach.

While the frankfurter fighters did their best, two men emerged as the ones to beat — reigning champion Billy Floyd and contender Johnny Haase. When the countdown ran out, Floyd had consumed 11 wieners but it was unclear how many Haase ate, which resulted in a protest being lodged. 

There was only one way to settle the matter — a sudden death eat-off. One minute was put back on the clock as the two went head-to-head to see who could eat the most. Floyd, a slim man, did his best and ate one complete bun and wiener, but Haase had room for two to take the title.

On the women’s side, the battle was less dramatic but nonetheless impressive, with Kiera Grogan of Orange County, New York, taking home the belt with a total of six hot dogs, edging out her competition.

UW beer and wine sales go well when teams win

in News/Food and Beverage
UW football beer sales

By Cody Beers, Cowboy State Daily

Saturday marks the start of the third year of beer and wine sales at UW football and basketball games. And if Saturday’s attendance at Wyoming-Missouri football opener nears a predicted sellout, it could be a big day for beer and wine sales inside War Memorial Stadium.

Instituted to create a new revenue source for UW Athletics and a way to enhance the fan experience, beer and wine sales grossed $505,000 in 2017 and $460,000 in 2018. The 2018 sales numbers dropped largely due to fewer fans attending Cowboy football games – 73,076 fans attended football games in 2018, compared to 97,300 in 2017.

Revenue is split between UW Athletics (55 percent) and local pouring rights vendor Roxie’s on Grand (45 percent). UW Athletics transfers the first $30,000 from beer and wine sales each year to the Office of Student Affairs on the UW campus, according to Billy Sparks, UW Senior Associate Athletic Director-Business Operations.

Sparks said Roxie’s on Grand in 2017 was selected as UW’s pouring rights vendor for three years, with an option for two more years.

“As the pouring rights vendor, their responsibilities are to provide manpower and enough beer-wine product to sufficiently serve fans at our football and basketball games,” Sparks said.

Roxie’s responsibilities include adhering to and supporting UW’s rules and regulations regarding ID checks and service limits — serving only 2 beers or glasses of wine per person, with a maximum of 4 total beers per person per game.

While the national average of fans buying beer and wine at sporting events is about 50 percent, Sparks said the figure is lower at UW football and basketball games.

“Anecdotally, stories float around about how much Wyoming fans drink at bowl games and conference basketball tournaments, but the actual numbers at home games have shown about 30 percent to 35 percent are actually buying beer and wine,” Sparks said. “On average, sales numbers show Wyoming fans are drinking two to two and one-half beers per game.”

Sparks said beer and wine sales at UW football and basketball games are adding to the fans’ experience.

“The game atmosphere and entertainment aspect for fans has been enhanced,” he added. “In a time where attendance numbers are lower (around the country), every effort has to be made to give fans reasons to physically attend the games versus staying home and watching games on television or watching portions of games on smartphones, tablets, etc.”

Sparks said beer and wine consumers will see changes beginning Saturday.

“Mostly aluminum bottles will be sold, instead of draft beers,” he said. “We believe this will speed up the lines, eliminate partially used kegs, make it easier on the hawkers and should speed up their transactions, allow flexibility to open some express sales locations for larger crowds, and keep the beer colder for a longer period of time.”

Roxie’s staff will also be more proactive this year in checking IDs and distributing wrist bands outside the stadium prior to games.

Finally a product change for this fall includes increased availability of Budweiser products (Budweiser, Bud Light, Kona, Becks IPA, etc.)

“Roxie’s has also increased staffing for this upcoming year,” Sparks said. “Last year at the Washington State game, Roxie’s staff numbered about 90. This year, the plan for the Missouri game is to have about 150 staff members.”

Law enforcement presence remains strong, vigilant at UW games

UW Police Department Chief Mike Samp is a 22-year UW police veteran (the last eight years as chief). Samp and his officers have seen a bit of everything in his time at UW, but the chief is encouraged by trends in drinking by Wyoming fans.

“Generally, we are seeing fewer attempts by people trying to sneak beer and hard alcohol into the (War Memorial) stadium,” he said. “We are still seeing some underage drinking attempts inside the stadium, but most underage drinkers are consuming outside the stadium and then trying to enter the stadium.”

UW’s arrest and ticket records support this notion, “largely because we aren’t writing large numbers of open container tickets.

“All in all, selling beer at our events has gone rather well,” he said.

One thing that remains consistent, Samp said, is the fact that when the Cowboys are winning, fewer problems are seen.

“We see a lot of correlation between winning and losing,” he said. “As long as UW is winning, things tend to go well. So ultimately, it’s a ‘Go Pokes’ mentality.”

Samp remains optimistic about beer sales and football inside War Memorial Stadium, much like UW fans, boosters, coaches and players.

“By in large, given the population of folks who are attending our games, beer sales themselves haven’t created any larger issue,” Samp said. “We are continuing to monitor overconsumption. We don’t want people drinking and driving when they are leaving the stadium.

“We often see medical issues related to alcohol where we have games with rather high temperatures,” he continued. “Combine that with folks tailgating starting at noon or earlier, the longer time for people to consume alcohol, and the evening start, it’s obvious that actual consuming inside the stadium won’t be much of an issue this week.”

With Saturday’s 5:30 p.m. kickoff, longer-than-normal pregame tailgating is expected. This may lead to more alcohol-related medical issues than during normal midday kickoff time on Saturday.

Saturday’s forecast also calls for a high of 83 degrees in Laramie, and 80 degrees is forecast at kickoff.

Samp credits a team-oriented approach to successful law enforcement on game days, such as Saturday when highly-touted Missouri and its energetic fans of the Southeastern Conference come to Laramie.

“We’ve got a minimum staffing of 42 officers for any game, and that includes officers from UW, Wyoming Highway Patrol, Albany County Sheriff’s Department and the City of Laramie,” Samp said.

Inside War Memorial Stadium, law enforcement presence varies according to attendance, Samp added.

“We are hoping to have 60 officers for Saturday’s game, and those numbers will be augmented by contract security people on site.”

Fun in a bun: Wyoming’s Hot Dog Eating Championship to be held in Mills on Monday

in Community/Food and Beverage
Hot dogs

For those with a soft spot in their hearts for the epicurean delight that is the hot dog, Mills is the place to be this long holiday weekend.

The second annual Wyoming Hot Dog Eating Championship on Monday will feature feats of gastronomical bravery as competitors face off in an attempt to eat the most hot dogs — including buns — in 11 minutes.

Organizer Ticker Lock, owner of Casper’s Rockin’ Burgers ’n Dogs Food Truck, said he created the championship and accompanying activities to give residents of his hometown of Mills something to look forward to at the end of the summer.

“It’s my way of giving back to the community,” he said. “There’s nothing to do on Labor Day. So I created it. I wanted to give the community something to look forward to.”

Competitors simply have to register at no cost on the day of the event. However, only seven men and seven women will be allowed to enter — although one extra spot is automatically awarded to the winners of the 2018 competition if they choose to enter this year.

Separate competitions will be held for men and women. Last year’s champion in men’s competition ate 13 hot dogs, while the women’s winner, who came to Casper from Nevada, ate 12, Lock said.

Competitors must eat not only the all-beef hot dogs, but the accompanying buns as well, he added.

“A lot of them bring their own Kool-Aid or water to dunk the bun,” he said. “It saves on a bit of chewing.”

The winners will each receive a custom-made championship belt.

The hot dog contest is the highlight of the full-day celebration at Mills River Front Park. Activities begin with a car show at 4 p.m. sponsored by group “Pop in the Shop.” The fee for putting to put a car on display is $10 and the proceeds will be used to help Pop in the Shop in its work to mentor young men.

Also on hand will be several food trucks, including Rockin’ Burgers n’ Dogs, Deb’s Fudge Kitchen, I Scream for Ice Cream and Miss Sara’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese, along with vendors, all beginning at 3 p.m.

Live music by Chad Lore, “Wyoming’s One-Man Band,” will begin at 4 p.m.

For more information, visit Rock’ Burgers n’ Dogs Food Truck’s website or see its Facebook page.

Cheyenne’s Edge Fest Scores Hot Acts, Cool Vibes for Fifth Annual Event

in Community/Food and Beverage/arts and culture

Cheyenne residents and visitors from all over the region are in for stellar performances, great food and a happening party this Saturday, August 24 as Edge Fest takes over the new Civic Commons Park and Amphitheater on Cheyenne’s West Edge.

Genre-bending/blending singer K.Flay and rock and roller Billy Raffoul take the stage in Cheyenne for what promises to be the biggest show in Edge Fest’s five year history.

Edge Fest essential details:

Who: K. Flay and Billy Raffoul + epic cross-section of food trucks and vendors

When: Saturday, August 24 | Doors open: 5:00pm | Party Ends: 10:00pm

Where: Civic Commons Park located in Cheyenne’s West Edge

What: Edge Fest is a free, all-ages event. No tickets are required.

The Best Carnival Food at Cheyenne Frontier Days

in Community/Food and Beverage

Corndogs and turkey legs and deep-fried Oreos, oh my!

Hang on, Dorothy, the variety of iconic carnival food available at Frontier Park this week staggers the imagination!

From funnel cakes to rattlesnake bratwurst, the carnival midway is filled with deep-fried, smoked and sugared treats.

Just to give you an idea of the high points, Cowboy State Daily’s Jim Angell visited the midway to try 10 different carnival foods and rank them according to his preference. Take a look at his gastronomical journey and watch to the end to see his top 10 choices.

Remember, there are no hard and fast rules for this, so don’t be afraid to offer up your own rankings on the Cowboy State Daily Facebook page.

Bon appetit!

Daddy of ‘Em All is BIG for local business

in Economic development/News/Food and Beverage/arts and culture

Tourism officials in Cheyenne are predicting that the city’s annual Frontier Days celebration will bring at least as many people to Cheyenne as showed up for the 2018 event.

Darren Rudloff, president and CEO of Visit Cheyenne, said he understands that ticket sales for the 10-day rodeo are at levels about where they were last year, when about 105,000 people visited the city and reports indicate most hotels rooms in the city are full for the event.

“So far, rodeo tickets are on par with where they were last year, concert tickets are up about 10 percent from what I hear and the weather is going to be great as well,” he said. “So it’s looking like it’s going to be a great Frontier Days.”

Jim Osterfoss, owner of the Warren Nagle Mansion Bed and Breakfast, said his facility is booked to near capacity for the rodeo.

The annual boost for business provided by the extra visitors is always welcomed by businessmen such as George Kallas, who owns the Albany Restaurant in downtown Cheyenne with is brother Gus.

“It’s our Christmas,” he said.

Kallas noted that anyone in Cheyenne during the celebration would be challenged to be bored.

“People come in (to the Albany), they buy package (liquor), they buy food, they buy drink, they go to the (Depot) Plaza, there’s some nice bands on Friday and Saturday night, they go shopping and then they go out to the rodeo,” he said. “And then they go to the night show. And they enjoy all of that. If you can’t find something to do (during) Frontier Days in Cheyenne, there’s something wrong with you.”

Chugwater spices things up at 34th Chili 🌶 Cook Off

in Community/Food and Beverage

Cooks from around the country converged on the tiny town of Chugwater, Wyoming this weekend for the 34th annual Chugwater Chili Cook-off.

Red, green, and salsa judging paired with cold drinks and big fun.

The annual event benefits local nonprofit groups including Chugwater School Student Organizations (FFA and FBLA), Chugwater Volunteer Fire Department, Chugwater Historical Unity Group, Chugwater Housing and Economic Development and the Chugwater Community Center.

The Busy Bee: Homestyle food in Longmire country

in Travel/Food and Beverage
Busy Bees Cafe

When a restaurant is prominently mentioned in a popular western book and television series, you have to reckon it offers up some pretty good food.

Buffalo’s Busy Bee Cafe, a regular stop for fictional western lawman Walt Longmire, does not disappoint.

The Bee has occupied the space between the Clear Creek and the historic Occidental Hotel since 1927, offering up homestyle breakfasts, lunches and dinners to both locals and visitors on Buffalo’s Main Street.

Ucross author Craig Johnson created Longmire’s fictional county of Absaroka and town of Durant by borrowing elements from Johnson County and Buffalo, including the Busy Bee. Johnson’s books often describe Longmire walking into the Busy Bee and asking for “the usual,” which is now an available option on the restaurant’s menu (eggs, hash browns, toast or biscuit and a ham steak as an upgrade from the usual bacon or sausage).

The atmosphere is friendly, the cafe cozy (seat yourself at one of the dozen or so tables) and the food is just what you’d expect from the center of cowboy country: hearty, tasty and plenty of it.

The standard breakfast of two eggs, bacon or sausage, hash browns and toast or biscuit is terrific, with the star of the plate being the homemade biscuits. Light and flaky, they are a perfect accompaniment to the meal.

Three-egg omelettes are also available and cooked to perfection, with the fluffy eggs providing a great shell for generous helpings ham, cheese, vegetables or anything else you might desire.

My personal favorite was the breakfast burrito: eggs, hash browns and your choice of bacon or sausage all wrapped in a flour tortilla and smothered in country sausage gravy. Finishing it is no small feat.

Top it all off with friendly, attentive service, and you’ve got the kind of diner you would expect to hold a position of honor in western literature.

Invention of Taco Johns potato ole

in Food and Beverage/Business

By Cowboy State Daily

If you’ve ever eaten at a Taco Johns you know about the potato ole.

That crispy, crunchy, salty, seasoned tater tot so good you would never call it just a tater tot. But how did the potato ole become a central player on the menu of a Mexican fast-food joint?

We’ve got the skinny on the history of the deep fried delicacy that almost burned out before it blew up as a west-Mex sensation.

In Cheyenne, The Metropolitan’s neon sign an homage to building’s history

in Community/Food and Beverage

Downtown Cheyenne, long a seesaw of forward momentum and stumbles backwards, is lighting up with some new neon (and looking downright sophisticated) as The Metropolitan Downtown nears completion.

“We want to see this corner shining bright,” said Metropolitan Marketing Manager Katy Rinne.

The corner of 17th Street and Carey Avenue is certainly about to become a hub of activity with the opening of the new restaurant and a new municipal courthouse across the street.

“Huge focus on food. Huge focus on atmosphere. Huge focus on service. And the art of all of those things. Neon for our sign tied into that. It’s a piece of art,” said Rinne.

The restaurant anticipates opening in late June.

Lab meat is a hit, Impossible Whopper sells out

in Food and Beverage

By James Chilton, Cowboy State Daily

ST. LOUIS – Well folks, it’s official. Burger King announced April 29 that it shall make the impossible possible. Not only has the fast food institution managed to create a vegetarian burger that tastes nearly indistinguishable from the original beef Whopper; but the plant-based patty doppelganger has managed to win the hearts and minds of Burger King’s initial test market and will be making its way to a franchise near you by year’s end.

Just in time to sync up with the Blade Runner timeline, too.

Initial reviews of the Impossible Whopper — made with the faux hamburger known as the Impossible Burger — have been so positive that Burger King has announced the sandwich will be made available at 7,000 of its locations.

The expansion of the offering, along with Impossible Foods’ deals to provide other fast food restaurants with its Impossible Burger, have contributed to a shortage of the plant-based meat, according to online food magazine Eater.

The development points to a growing demand for meat-free dining, as does the fact that Impossible Foods’ main rival, Beyond Meat, saw a 170 percent gain in its stock value on the day last week it first offered stock for sale.

I was fortunate enough to find myself in Burger King’s initial Impossible Whopper test market, having moved from Cheyenne back to my hometown of St. Louis in the spring of 2017. And so, I decided to see whether the Impossible Whopper really lives up to its ambitious moniker. Over the past week I’ve sampled two of them, one for comparison’s sake alongside its meatier predecessor, the other as a standalone lunch.

Going in, I suppose it’s only fair that I make a few things clear: First off, I’m neither a Burger King loyalist nor a detractor. Subjectively, if we’re ranking fast food chains, I suppose I’d consider it second to McDonalds in the “generic ubiquitous burger restaurant now known more for its ubiquity than its burgers” category of burger joints. But in all honesty it’s just one of those fast food places I never really get around to very often, even when I am in the mood for fast food. No prejudice against the place, it just sort of worked out that way.

So in judging the flavor of the Impossible Whopper against that of the genuine article, I didn’t expect either sandwich to meet some pre-conceived Whopper flavor profile I’ve concocted over years of experience. So if you’ve eaten a Whopper every week for the last 10 years, there’s a chance you’ll bite into this thing with somewhat different taste expectations than I did. 

That said, having tasted the Impossible Whopper twice now, I must admit Burger King did a great job in mimicking the overall Whopper experience. 

Taken with an assortment of standard toppings and a side of fries, the Impossible Whopper eats like a burger. You bite, chew, swallow, and everything feels the way it’s supposed to feel; nothing rubbery or spongy. As for the taste, the only telltale signs you’re not eating a standard Whopper are a distinct lack of greasiness and a faint, vaguely peanut-like undertone to the flavor. I found it subtle enough that if you didn’t know you weren’t eating a meat patty, you likely wouldn’t notice.

Now, none of this is meant to imply that plant-based burgers are going to knock meat off the menu anytime soon. But having sampled my fair share of meat substitutes over the years, it feels like the Impossible Whopper is something different, something that’s managed to claw its way up out of the far end of the uncanny valley. And I’m apparently not the only one who feels that way. 

Eric Bohl of the Missouri Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization, sampled the Impossible Whopper himself shortly after the St. Louis pilot program began. Like me, he noticed only subtle differences in taste compared to the traditional Whopper, prompting him to warn ranchers not to dismiss the Impossible Burger as a one-off fad.

“This is not just another disgusting tofu burger that only a dedicated hippie could convince himself to eat,” Bohl declared, in an April 3 post to the farm bureau website. “It’s 95 percent of the way there, and the recipe is likely to only get better.”

An opportunivore, vegetarian and reformed omnivore walk into a veggie bar…

in Food and Beverage

This is part two of the Impossible Burger food fight with our tasters first impressions and candid conversation on the ethics of lab-grown meat versus farm-raised meat. Find part one here.

But once the cameras quit rolling, our deep discussion into the merits of meat vs. vegetable patties began in earnest.

IKE: Do you think the Impossible Burger is a more ethical option than a traditional hamburger?

JEFF: Yes. Nothing died to make this burger.

IKE: A cow didn’t die, sure. But the farmlands needed to produce these ingredients are often acres of monoculture where wildlife species are suppressed. On a ranch, you have biodiversity. Wildlife is allowed if not encouraged to thrive.

JEFF: That may be so, but most the meat this country consumes aren’t the cows you see on the side of the road. They are cows that were raised in a box somewhere else.

IKE: Understood. I’m not crazy about the process of mass producing meat, but unfortunately my pocket book dictates that if I want to eat meat, I have to buy what’s cheap.

JOEL: There’s no question there’s a lot benefits to eating plant-based foods vs. industrially produced livestock. Unfortunately, it does come down to economics. There are a lot of people whose diets would suffer significantly without access to that cheap meat. 

IKE: I don’t think it’s reasonable to ask an entire populace to embrace an “ethical” diet at the risk of poverty. 

JEFF: I’m vegetarian, but I don’t believe everyone needs to be. As a nation, we do consume way too much meat, however.

IKE: So what’s the solution? 

JOEL: Like anything else in a capitalist market, you can’t expect the producers to bear all the weight, nor the government, nor the consumers. All change needs to be driven by all those sectors working in concert. Until consumers decide to eat less meat, until the producers respond to that decision, until the government devises a plan to incentivize healthy diets and production practices, it’s hard for me to claim one diet is more ethical than the others.

IKE: I’ll be honest, I like the Impossible Burger as a sandwich. I don’t see anything impossible about it as it fails to provide a believable substitute for meat, but I would be willing to replace a couple meat sandwiches a week with something like this. The problem is research. Every time science provides us a “healthy” alternative, research seems to prove the alternative is worse than what it replaced. Look at diet soda, sugar substitutes and margarine.

JOEL: I can’t believe it’s not butter.

JEFF: I can’t believe it’s not murder (before finishing the last bite of his Impossible Burger). For me, it’s about being more ethical. I don’t believe in killing animals, so I don’t eat them. While that may not mean my food is produced as ethically as possible, I believe it’s more ethical than meat.

JOEL: I think what the Impossible Burger symbolizes is more ethical, and that’s having more plant-based options for our nutrition.

IKE: If the problem with meat is the death of animals, do you see lab-grown meat as a viable and ethical option?

JEFF: Absolutely. I think it’s the future. 

JOEL: I’m down. Sure. Why not?

Food fight: ‘Impossible Burger’ taste panel debates meat vs. veggie burger

in Food and Beverage
Food fight: ‘Impossible Burger’ taste panel debates meat vs. veggie burger

By Ike Fredregill, Cowboy State Daily

If you’re going to pick a fight, it might as well be a food fight.

When Cowboy State Daily charged me with assembling a taste-testing panel for the Impossible Burger, I knew just the guys to get the dialogue rolling: Joel Funk, the Laramie Boomerang managing editor and former vegetarian; and Jeff Victor, a University of Wyoming grad student and fanatic disciple of vegetarianism.

Both Joel and Jeff know me to be an unrepentant meat eater, or “blood mouth” as Jeff would later say. So, under the guise of diversity, I was able to entice my friends to the table for a debate about ethical edibility. 

It didn’t hurt I offered to pick up the tab.

The impossible 

On April Fools’ Day, Burger King rolled out a game-changing announcement — a partnership with Impossible Foods to provide a vegetarian burger patty dubbed the Impossible Whopper.

I’m not sure if they chose the date so they could retract the statement depending on the public response, or because they thought offering a meatless hamburger was a good prank, but come April 2, the fast food franchise stood by their claim — sort of.

The Impossible Whopper is only available in select cities for the time being, and it comes as no surprise none of those cities are in Wyoming.

According to the Washington Post, however, the faux-burger did quite well in St. Louis, where it’s being tested at 59 locations — many of which sold out of the sandwich the first day.

Now, I’ve been called a lot of things, but patient isn’t one of them. Luckily, I didn’t need to look far for an opportunity to try out the Impossible.

Sweet Melissa Cafe in Laramie offers the original Impossible Burger, Impossible Foods’ precursor to the Impossible Whopper.

Food fight

Joel, Jeff and I kicked off the feast with the intended testing panel and for the most part, the Impossible Burger was a winner.

“I don’t think this could compete with a gourmet burger,” Jeff said. “To me it’s good. But, it makes me think of a trashy fast food burger, and I mean trashy in the best of ways. That’s actually what I like about it.”

Joel turned the Impossible Burger over in his hands almost as if he were judging it by weight alone.

“It’s got good substance,” he said. “It feels like a burger in my mouth. As far as veggie burgers go, it’s probably one of the better ones out there.”

My favorite kind of food is whatever is in front of me, so I dived in.

“I like it as a sandwich, but I don’t see anything ‘impossible’ about it,” I remarked. “It’s definitely got that mouth feel, but it’s lacking the flavor of meat. My tastebuds notice a definite absence.”

Stay tuned tomorrow for video with the tasters first impressions and ensuing conversation on the ethics of lab-grown meat versus farm-raised meat.

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