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Cheeseburger soup creams shrimp juice

Steve Benson
Johnny MvGuire dishes out the love at the Boogie's Diner Soup Skol in Aspen on July 4, 2004. Aspen Times photo/Jim Paussa.
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If you’re going to steal a soup pot and hold it for ransom, you’d better be prepared for retaliation. As Sunday’s Soup Sköl Faceoff revealed, the masterminds at Johnny McGuire’s were more than prepared, as they creamed the Mother Lode Restaurant – 318 votes to 98 – in an intense head-to-head cook-off to find the best soup in Aspen. The two soups, and their creators, who have been feuding since last winter when a controversial ruling crowned the Mother Lode as soup champions, couldn’t have been more different. The McGuire’s staff, in their homemade superhero costumes and circus-esque demeanor, might as well have been selling samples in the parking lot following a Grateful Dead show. They served up a hearty concoction called “Cheeseburger soup with seasoned steak fried dunkers.” Mother Lode staff members, looking more serious in their white aprons, handed out samples of their “Lemon and basil fused tomato broth with rock shrimp and baby arugula.” It was clear early on that the McGuire’s tent was the favorite among tasters, attracting a decent crowd throughout much of the afternoon. But Mother Lode chef Randall Baldwin felt that in no way indicated that their soup was favored.

“Of course they’re going to be crowded – they got the gimmick,” he said. “But I’m not worried, it’s quantity vs. quality.” As Baldwin spoke, Terrance McGuire, part owner of Johnny McGuire’s, shouted to the crowd as he passed out samples, “There’s another soup being served, but we don’t recommend it.” Tripp Miller of Fort Worth, Texas, said he preferred the flavor and consistency of Johnny’s, but also felt it was a more appropriate soup given the circumstances. “It’s the Fourth of July, and what’s more American than cheeseburgers and french fries?” Miller asked. “You can’t win with shrimp juice.” Ned Lucks of Snowmass Village said he appreciated the McGuire’s offering, but had to vote for the Mother Lode.

“I like the passion demonstrated over here,” Lucks said, referring to McGuire’s. “And the cheeseburger is good, but it’s not really soup.” The Johnny’s-Mother Lode rivalry heated up following the Wintersköl weekend, when despite winning two of the three categories, Johnny McGuire’s lost out to the Mother Lode. “Somehow, the Mother Lode got the [trophy] soup pot,” McGuire said Sunday. “So we went over to the Lode and stole the pot, which is rightfully ours.” According to Baldwin it was a “couple weeks” before anyone even realized the trophy pot was gone. “Which goes to show they didn’t even deserve to win it,” McGuire said. The McGuire’s staff then delivered an old camping pot – which they had nearly destroyed – to the Mother Lode with a ransom note.

“At that point, we knew who had it and we challenged them,” Baldwin said. Boogie’s general manager Reggie Barbour, who organized the event, said the Soup Sköl Faceoff was designed to complement the Wintersköl soup competition, which drew more than 30 participants and 2,500 tasters. “And look at these guys, they’re bringing it again this summer,” Barbour said. Steve Poland, a sous chef at Boogie’s, said Wintersköl organizers asked Boogie’s to come up with a fun event to promote Wintersköl. “It went fantastic, an enormous success,” Poland said. “We’re looking forward to doing this again in January – this just magnified the whole thing.”Steve Benson’s e-mail address is sbenson@aspentimes.com


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