Winner of Inaugural “Mercersburger” Competition Chosen

Wednesday, September 22, 2021
L-R: Andrew Gerstel P ’22 (holding a photo of his wife, Julie P ’22), Reagan Houpt ’25,
and Dr. Marta Willoughby P ’25

The inaugural Mercersburger competition—a search for the best burger recipe on campus—matched up three finalists, all of which were served at a tailgate lunch during the school’s Family Weekend October 9. Finalists included the “MAPL League Burger,” submitted by Julie Gerstel P ’22 of Great Falls, VA; the “Kimchi Burger,” submitted by Reagan Houpt ’25 of Mercersburg, PA; and the “Everything but the Bagel Burger,” submitted by Marta Willoughby P ’25 of Midland, TX.

Family Weekend attendees sampled the burgers as part of the lunch, and cast their vote for their favorite (both traditional and vegetarian burger options were available). After the results were tallied, Houpt’s recipe was the victor. Houpt received a Mercersburg prize pack that included a one-of-a-kind Mercersburger-branded apron.

Recipes were submitted by students, faculty, alumni, and parents, and were crafted by student chefs in a test kitchen in the True Blue Café inside the Simon Student Center on a September weekend. A star-studded list of discerning yet eager judges sampled each of the creations, and their votes narrowed down the list of finalists to the aforementioned three.

Elijah Brown ’22 and Liz Bills ’22 prepare recipes in the test kitchen

Student chefs who prepared the recipes for the test-kitchen round included a number of students enrolled in the Food for Thought Springboard course, which is co-taught by faculty members Maggie Howes and Michele Poacelli P ’24. The full list of chefs included James Ang ’22, Liz Bills ’22, Darren Blocker ’22, Elijah Brown ’22, Lydia Giannaris ’22, Bob Hollis ’24, Michael Mazza ’22, Molly Willis ’22, and Serena Zhang ’22.

Judges for the test kitchen included Senior Class President Monique Garcia ’22 and Student Council President Avo Reid ’22, Director of Dining Services Bill Korhammer, and faculty members Kelly Dowling P ’21, ’21, ’23, Rick Hendrickson P ’03, ’06, ’19, Bryan Morgan ’07, and Julia Stojak Maurer ’90, P ’18, ’20, ’22, ’23. Special thanks go out to Craig Munhall, executive chef for Meriwether Godsey (the school’s dining-services provider), and Jillian Wilkerson, content manager for internal programs in the school’s Office of Strategic Marketing and Communications.

For more information on this story, please contact Lee Owen ( in Mercersburg’s Office of Strategic Marketing and Communications.