‘Love letter to Derby:’ Oldham County woman wins Derby Burger Challenge with ‘P.L.T. Burger’

March 15, 2024

When Stacy Hoehle heard about the ‘s , it sounded like a combination of her favorite things: Food and the .

So when the full-time attorney and Oldham County native went to create a burger recipe for the competition, it made sense to incorporate some of her favorite ingredients: Fried green tomatoes and pimento cheese. 

It didn’t take much experimentation to decide on the final recipe, complete with homemade brioche buns, ground beef with , lettuce, red onion, crispy fried green tomato slice, remoulade, and pimento cheese. She cooked up he original concoction twice in one week and that was that. 

“I really liked it right away,” Hoehle told the Courier Journal. “I made the burger over the winter when I was craving warm weather. The ingredients remind me of what warm weather feels like in Kentucky.” 

Others who have since tried her dish, coined the “P.L.T. Burger,” like those summertime tastes too. 

Stacy Hoehle's winning Derby Burger is made with fried green tomatoes and pimento cheese.

That includes the judges of the final round of the 12th annual Derby Burger Challenge, held on Tuesday at the Kroger in Middletown and sponsored by the Kentucky Beef Council along with Official Seasoning, Dan-O’s Seasoning, and Kroger. 

Hoehle woke up just before 1 a.m. Tuesday to prep for the cook-off. Those steps included making pimento cheese, frying tomatoes, and getting into a wardrobe that featured a dress adorned with cheeseburgers, before driving from LaGrange for a 5 a.m. live broadcast. 

Hoehle, 41, said she wanted her excitement, even at an early hour, to show. 

“You’ve heard of the five love languages,” she said. “I really think there’s a sixth one and it’s food.”

Growing up with parents who hosted Kentucky Derby parties and entertained often, Hoehle says she has the gene to show her love by cooking for friends and family. 

Her winning burger is an extension of that. 

Stacy Hoehle of LaGrange was named the 2024 Derby Burger Champion.

“This is my love letter to the Derby and the Derby Festival,” she said. 

Ahead of the cook-off, dozens of recipes were submitted for the 2024 competition and nearly 20,000 burger fans voted online to narrow it down to the top four finalists. While the process unfolded, Hoehle kept a light-hearted mindset.

“You can’t win if you don’t show up and you can’t have fun if you don’t show up,” she said. “Either way, I knew it was going to be a fun experience.”

On Tuesday, the burgers were judged by four factors, including taste, appearance, creativity, and ease of preparation. The burgers were compiled with 100% Kentucky Cattlemen’s Ground Beef and included Dan-O’s Seasoning in the recipe.

When Hoehle was announced as the Derby Burger Champion, she felt “genuinely surprised.” 

Stacy Hoehle, an Oldham County native, is the 2024 Derby Burger Champion.

“I was just happy to unlock the next level of Derby superfan,” she said. 

Grant Ruble of Louisville got second place with the “Candy Dan Burger.” Third place went to Brian Capps, a Louisvillian and previous Derby burger champ, with the “Pesto Provolone Burger” and fourth place went to Ira Mowman of Louisville with the “Jamaican Jerk Burger.”

Hoehle’s burger recipe will be featured at on the Waterfront, which runs from April 25 through May 3. The recipe will also be featured inside Kroger stores. 

As the winner, Hoehle receives other perks including a 2024 Official Derby Festival Poster, VIP tickets to several Derby Festival events, a new grill and accessories, and a year’s supply of Dan-O’s Seasoning.

Stacy Hoehle, an Oldham County native, is the 2024 Derby Burger Champion.

As for whether Hoehle will enter the Derby Burger Challenge again?

“Absolutely not,” she said, jokingly. “How many grills does one person need?” 

While this challenge might be a one-time thing, Hoehle has her sights on another gig. She’d like to be a derby burger judge in the future.

“I want someone else to be surprised and delighted just like I was,” she said. “And I want to be able to try all the burgers.”

Reach food and dining reporter Amanda Hancock at [email protected].

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