Kids create burger recipes for Red Robin's cookbook

August 16, 2010 (CHICAGO)

This year, three burgers invented by Chicago-area boys are featured in the 4th annual Red Robin Kids' Cook-Off Cookbook: 50 Gourmet Burger Creations from Kids Across the Country ( Mike Smyth Jr.'s Bacon Hot Popper Burger; Brett Kliegl's Oopa! Your Mouth Burger, and Tyler Ponce's Bahama Burger were selected from more than 11,000 recipes entered in the cookbook competition.

Celebrity judge Robin Miller of Food Network contributed two recipes to the kid-inspired cookbook that has tips for making the perfect burger and advice for young cooks. It also includes back-to-school safety tips from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) that families can discuss while cooking together. You can download the burger cookbook for free at

To earn a spot in the burger cook off, children from six to 12 years old were invited to submit their original burger recipes and 100-word statements on why their burgers deserved to be America's next gourmet burger. The cookbook recipes were chosen based on their inventive combination of ingredients and fun flavors, and the accompanying essay.

Mike Smyth of New Lennox was a Kids' Cook-Off Finalist and became the first runner-up in the Kids' Cook-Off Championship. The 12-year-old's Bacon Hot Popper Burger is made with a beef patty, cream cheese, jalapeño peppers, and bacon on a hamburger bun. You can watch Mike and the other finalists competing in the championship at the Kids' Cook Off website (

Brett Kliegl, 10, created the Oopa! Your Mouth Burger by topping a beef patty, green olives, tomato, cucumber sauce, garlic butter, feta cheese, sweet onion, and oregano seasoning on a sesame seed garlic bun. Brett, who lives in Bolingbrook, says his burger deserved to be America's next gourmet burger because, "It's fun to try new foods with an ethnic flair like my Mediterranean burger. Your mouth will water looking at this beauty on the menu. The feta cheese and olives makes this a real special meal. It's bigger, better and makes you Oopa your mouth!"

Tyler Ponce of Grayslake invented the Bahama Burger that is made with a beef patty, a pineapple slice, teriyaki glazed bacon, Colby-jack cheese, pineapple juice, coconut flakes, and teriyaki sauce on a bun. The 12 year old says his burger deserved to be America's next gourmet burger because, "It is very good and I never saw a burger like it before."

Young cooks who'd like to see their recipe in next year's cookbook, can enter the burger contest through September 12. Children from six to 12 can submit their gourmet burger recipe entries online at online at for the chance to be named the next Kids' Cook-Off grand-prize winner.

The burger cookbook is a tool for families to use while spending time together in the kitchen. It also encourages parents to talk to their children about being safe. That's especially important with children going back to school soon, according to NCMEC. This is a smart time to review child-safety strategies because soon children will be interacting with new and different people outside their homes. About 4 out of 10 attempted child abductions happen when children are going to and from school or a school-related activity. The good news is that in about 8 out of 10 of these attempted abductions, children get away because they know what to do. The Red Robin Kids' Cook-Off Cookbook makes this conversation easier for families because it's a resource that allows them to review their child safety strategies in a relaxed setting while cooking together.

According to NCMEC, open family communication is a primary and vital component to keeping kids safe. Some of the back-to-school safety tips include:

  • Make sure your child knows how to identify other trusted adults in case you're not available during an emergency, such as uniformed law enforcement, crossing guards or parents with kids

  • Advise your kids not to take short-cuts on the way to or from school. Make sure they walk with a group, or if your kids take the bus, wait with them

  • If an adult approaches your child for help -- or offers a gift or a ride -- teach your kids to immediately get away. Kids don't need to be polite in these situations – and adults should not be asking kids for help.

    In addition to making NCMEC's back-to-school safety tips accessible to all families nationwide with the free Kids' Cook-Off Cookbook, Red Robin also is supporting NCMEC's safety initiatives with an in-restaurant fundraiser through September 12. During that time, the grand-prize-winning burger from the 4th annual "Red Robin Kids' Cook-Off" – developed by 10-year-old Emma Potts from Bonney Lake, Washington – is being sold at all U.S. Red Robin restaurants. Fifty cents from every "Spicy Honey Glazed Bacon Burger" sold will benefit NCMEC. Emma's winning burger is featured on page 10 of the cookbook.

    For more information, and

  • About the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

    The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Since it was established by Congress in 1984, the organization has operated the toll-free 24-hour national missing children's hotline which has handled more than 2,475,300 calls. It has assisted law enforcement in the recovery of more than 151,300 children. The organization's CyberTipline has handled more than 918,230 reports of child sexual exploitation and its Child Victim Identification Program has reviewed and analyzed more than 35,420,600 pornography images and videos. The organization works in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Justice's office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. To learn more about NCMEC, call its toll-free, 24-hour hotline at 1-800-THE-LOST or visit its website at

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