Intense philanthropic competitions among the inferno “Playing with Fire” teams have become increasingly heated, with many employees still wincing from the outcome of the winter’s Souper Bowl.
For the summer showdown, the big idea was to encourage inferno employees to think small — a slider competition.
To fire up the chefs, the slider creative team distributed to employees shrink ray guns and invitations to shrink the burger.
Employees also discovered clusters of tiny cutout graphics posted at locations around the office. These miniaturized Fatheads featured bite-size slider characters and quotes in six-point type. The writing was so small that readers needed a magnifying glass, which was provided at each location.
The slider characters’ quotes included, “Does this patty make my buns look big?” and “Why did the tiny burger cross the road? To get to the other slide.
Upon closer examination, it became clear that the inferno partners, Dan O’Brien, Michael Overton, and Tim Sellers, had slider alter egos.
To make sure inferno employees never forget the tiny burgers and their witticisms, Michael Overton added a webpage to the inferno website to display the creative work with a link to Hope House, the nonprofit inferno has supported since 2012.
The clever creative work stoked employees, inspiring unforgettable sliders. From the toasted mac & cheese sliders with tomato/bacon/beer jam topping, to the buffalo chicken salad sliders with crunchy coleslaw, the competition was tight.
When the smoke cleared, the inferno employee who truly brought the heat was Liza Routh. Her Cheesy-Stuffed Meatball Slider won the Golden Shrink Ray Award.
Trish McLaughlin earned second place for her Flank Steak Slider. Kacie Ross slid into third place with her Hamburger, Sausage, and Velveeta Slider.
“Kacie was smart to go with the three major food groups,” said O’Brien.
Playing with Fire events benefit Hope House by raising funds and much-needed items to support the educational, social, psychological, and health needs of HIV-infected children and their families.
To view the slider webpage, visit creativeinferno.com/slidercookoff.
Below you’ll find Liza’s winning slider recipe.
Cheesy-Stuffed Meatball Sliders
Makes about 30 meatballs
4 lbs. lean ground beef
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups Romano cheese
8 garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons dried basil
4 teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2/3 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into cubes + more for topping
6 cups of your favorite pasta sauce
30 slider buns (or dinner rolls), toasted
Basil for garnish/topping
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large bowl, place ground beef, egg, oil, cheese, breadcrumbs, garlic, salt, pepper, basil, and parsley. To combine, mix a few times gently with your hands. Don’t overmix – it will result in tough meatballs! Spray a large baking dish with non-stick spray and add 4 cups of pasta sauce (split into two pans, if needed – 2 cups each). Roll beef mixture into golf ball-size meatballs (about 3 tablespoons of beef per meatball), and press a cube of mozzarella in the middle. Seal the beef around the cheese and set the meatball in the sauce. Once all meatballs have been added, sprinkle additional cheese and breadcrumbs over the top. Bake for 30 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through. (If using two pans, cook separately for 30 minutes each.) Serve with additional sauce, if desired, the slider buns, and a few slabs of mozzarella for topping.