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Battle of the Burgers Returns to Temecula Valley

Thursday, December 14, 2023 4:00 PM by Norma Marlowe

What happens when top local chefs combine forces with high school culinary arts students to benefit a worthy cause? After a four-year hiatus, Temecula’s popular Battle of the Burgers returns to Pechanga Resort Casino on Saturday, January 20, 2024, from noon to 3 p.m. Now in its fourth year, the friendly competition gives local restaurants a chance to tout the title of “Best Burger” in the Temecula Valley. 

Tickets are available via this link:

The event is a collaborative effort between Visit Temecula Valley, Pechanga Resort Casino, and the Temecula Valley Unified School District (TVUSD). All funds benefit the Temecula Valley Unified School District Career Technical Education (CTE) Culinary Arts Program, which engages students in hands-on, interactive, work-based learning to help prepare them for high-skill, high-wage, and in-demand careers.  

“The Battle of the Burgers is not only incredibly fun, but it also helps our local school district cultivate a new generation of chefs,” said Scott Wilson, President/CEO of Visit Temecula Valley. “As Temecula tourism continues to grow, there is a strong need for chefs and hospitality workers. Our school district is on the forefront of a movement to increase work-based learning programs for high school students, which is great for local businesses and tourism.” 

With an afternoon full of unique and tasty samplings, nearly a dozen Temecula Valley restaurants are expected to participate. An esteemed panel of judges will put their taste buds to the test and select the top three winners. They include: 

  • Inland Empire/IE Explorer - Joel Greene
  • San Diego Union-Tribune – Pam Kragen, Chief Dining, Arts & Entertainment Editor
  • Temecula Foodies – Priscilla Tapia, Founder
  • Temecula Mayor - James "Stew" Stewart
  • Temecula Patch – Ashley Ludwig, Southern California Editor 
  • Executive Chef – Andre Pinto, Pechanga Resort Casino

Since a burger without fries is like a day without sunshine, high school culinary arts students will partner with executive chefs from Pechanga Resort Casino and develop unique “Loaded Fries” recipes. Chef-student teams will compete for both “Judges Choice” and “People’s Choice” awards. The “Loaded Fries” competition offers culinary students a unique opportunity to engage with a professional chef.

“Pechanga has a long history of giving back to the community,” said Andre Pinto, Executive Chef of Pechanga Resort Casino. “The Battle of the Burgers brings giving back to another level where working chefs can impart their knowledge and skills on the next generation entering the culinary world. The event is as great for the students as it is for our chefs. Both gain valuable insights and come away from the event with even more real-world knowhow.”  

The last Battle of the Burgers competition, which was held before the start of the pandemic in 2019, sold out with 400 hungry guests in attendance. Tickets for the January 2024 event are expected to sell quickly. 

“Temecula Valley Unified School District is excited for the return of the Battle of the Burgers at Pechanga Resort Casino,” said Tim Dignan, Director of Career Technical Education for TVUSD. “It is a tremendous community event that provides professional mentorship for our culinary arts students while raising funds to support our culinary program. Funds are used to pay for our students’ industry certifications, culinary field trips, and other work-based learning opportunities.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for cooks is expected to steadily increase as new restaurants continue to open and people continue eating out. The U.S. restaurant industry will need approximately 1.4 million cooks by 2026. 

About the Temecula Valley Unified School District CTE Program 

Career Technical Education (CTE) pathways are a series of sequential elective courses available to all students that combine academic, technical, and employability skills. Many of these courses offer students the opportunity to earn free college credit and/or industry certifications. All CTE courses engage students in hands-on, interactive work-based learning that will help to prepare them for high skill, high wage, and in demand careers. For more information visit

About Pechanga Resort Casino

Pechanga Resort Casino offers the one of the most expansive resort/casino experiences anywhere in the United States. Voted best casino in the west by the readers of USA Today’s 10Best and rated a Four Diamond property by AAA since 2002, Pechanga Resort Casino provides an unparalleled getaway, whether for the day or for an extended luxury stay. Offering more than 5,500 of the hottest slots, table games, world-class entertainment, 1,100 hotel rooms, dining, spa and championship golf at Journey at Pechanga, Pechanga Resort Casino features a destination unrivaled in California. Pechanga Resort Casino is owned and operated by the Pechanga Band of Indians. For more information, call toll free 1-888-PECHANGA or visit Follow Pechanga Resort & Casino on Facebook, Instagram and on X @PechangaCasino. Pechanga Resort & Casino is open 24-hours. Guests must be 21 and older to enter the casino.

About Visit Temecula Valley 

Visit Temecula Valley (VTV) is a nonprofit 501 (c)(6) destination marketing organization dedicated to promoting tourism-related businesses including wineries, restaurants, breweries, retail and specialty boutiques, hotels, short-term rentals, and more. It is a popular Southern California destination that includes Temecula Valley Wine Country, Old Town Temecula, and Pechanga Resort Casino. In 2019, Wine Enthusiast named Temecula Valley a 10 Best Wine Travel Destination, in the world. For more information visit

Author: Norma Marlowe