WILKES-BARRE - Tom Hogan knows a little something about food.
Hogan, 19, of Kingston, is one of three finalists in the first King’s College “Burger Cook-off” that will add a student’s creation to the campus menu. Hogan’s family owns Keeley’s Ale House & Grill in Kingston and Hogan works in the kitchen. He said he sometimes creates various burgers to see what they taste like.
Joe Hackett and Michael Guarino are the other two finalists, but they were late for the free tasting offered Monday at the college’s Marketplace Restaurant on the second floor of the Sheehy-Farmer Campus Center.
Hogan was there with his “Monarch Monster” creation. The sophomore history major went behind the counter and concocted his original creation — a double hamburger patty with American cheese, sauteed onions, French fries (on the burger), tomato, lettuce and barbecue sauce on a toasted bun.
“I could eat this every day,” said Katherine Petraglia, an 18-year-old freshman from Tobyhanna, after she sampled all three burgers. The Monarch Monster was her favorite, followed by Guarino’s “Nacho Burger” and Hackett’s “Monarch Mac.”
The Nacho Burger is a single patty with nachos and nacho cheese and salsa on the bun. The Monarch Mac is a patty with salt and pepper, lettuce, chopped onion, cheese and Hackett’s “secret sauce.”
Voting will continue all week, and the winner will be announced probably on Friday, said Eric Shotto, retail manager at Marketplace.
But according to unofficial results, Hogan’s Monarch Monster appeared to be ahead.
“I’ve been telling students to come out and vote for the Monarch Monster,” Hogan said. “I think if they try it, they will like it.”
The winning burger will be placed on the menu in Connerton’s Cafe — one of four dining areas for King’s students. Shotto said once the winner is known, he will then add up the cost of the ingredients to arrive at a selling price. Shotto said all King’s students were eligible to enter the contest, but 12 decided to try their culinary talents. That list was narrowed to the three finalists by a panel of judges.
“All 12 were tasted by the judges last week,” Shotto said. “The students came in and prepared their burgers.”
Shotto said Anthony Hickson, supervisor in Connerton’s, came up with the contest last year.
“Everybody agreed that it would be a great way to get the students involved in our food service,” Shotto said.
Patricia Telfair, cashier in The marketplace, said the Monarch Monster was her favorite, and Steven Buczek, 20, a sophomore from Wind Gap, agreed.
“It reminded me of a burger you would get at a food truck,” Telfair said. “It was different — very tasty.”
Buczek said, “It had a lot of flavor. I liked the fries on the burger idea.”
Joe Cole, 19, a sophomore from Mountain Top, favored the Nacho Burger, and Steve Hemmig, 19, a sophomore from Bel Air, Md., said the Monarch Mac offered “the perfect blend of cheese, tomato and beef.”
Petraglia said the contest was a good way to get to see what the students like to eat.
“This was as good as the food the serve here every day,” she said. “It would fit in with everything else. The Monarch Monster would be a good addition to the menu.”