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FIU student wins $10,000 in Red Robin Gourmet Burgers contest

Staff writer

While it won’t necessarily be featured on the Red Robin chain’s menu, Derrick Deal’s Bubblin’ Brown Sugar Bar-B-Que Burger just won him $10,000. And a spot at the star-studded Burger Bash at this week’s South Beach Wine & Food Festival.

Deal is a senior at Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management. He’s also night auditor at Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina Hotel.

Deal, along with 139 other FIU students, submitted recipes for the Red Robin Gourmet Burgers contest. Submissions were whittled down to 10 and Deal took top prize.

“I’m not trying to be a professional chef,” says Deal, who lives in North Miami. “I know my way around a kitchen from growing up with my grandmother. She taught me a lot about cooking. She’s a cook for the Dade County school board.”

On Friday, Deal and Food Network chef Robert Irvine will work side-by-side at the food festival’s Burger Bash, offering samples of his winning burger. Red Robin is a second-time sponsor of the event, where it will present another $10,000 Best of the Bash prize, selected by Irvine and Red Robin bigwigs. The winner will be sold at Red Robin later this year.

Deal, 35, came up with three ideas for the contest and did a taste test with a group of friends. A Hawaiian-inspired burger was the winner, but Deal saw that Red Robin already had a similarly themed offering on its menu.

So he made what he calls an “executive decision” and submitted his winner, which features brown sugar bacon, honey barbecue sauce, sharp cheddar and grilled onions.

Deal says he’ll put his prize in a CD for now. He’ll graduate from FIU this summer and would like to pursue a master’s degree at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

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