festivals and events
raves and reviews
the sweet scoop
the sweet scoop
“It’s all about the meat on meat, baby!” exclaimed Michael Symon as he proudly displayed his second People’s Choice Award trophy during last year’s 2011 SOBEWFF Burger Bash. A year later, his meat mixing mastery has paid off again.
“This year, we ground the bacon right into the burger meat,” said Symon of his winning Porky Burger — a bacon-speckled ground pork patty topped with pulled pork and slaw, with crispy pork cracklings on the side.
One of the most popular events of the Festival, the annual “best between the bun” throwdown hosted by Rachael Ray drew dozens of top name chefs and Food Network personalities from around the country to cook up their best burger creations. Thousands of attendees gathered into a massive Miami beachfront tent to nosh on a whopping amount of burgers and sides, sip Amstel Light and vote for their favorite patty.
There were 32 different burgers in all — more than enough to satisfy even the hungriest carnivores. Josh Capon (Burger & Barrel) put a sweet and savory spin on his with onion and bacon jam, shaved pickles and secret sauce, while Angelo Sosa (Social Eatz) spiced things up with his Korean-inspired bulgogi burger. The Meatball Shop guys impressed during their Bash debut with a chili-flavored cheddar and caramelized onion version, and the Amstel Light-sponsored Fatty ‘Cue patty from Zak Pelaccio was also a favorite—succulent lamb meat with salted chilis and rye barrel aged worcestershire.
Surprisingly, beloved burger joint Shake Shack switched up their classic Shack Burger for an American and applewood smoked bacon-topped beef patty slathered with pepper relish and Shack Sauce. Not surprisingly, Guy Fieri, Bobby Flay and Rachael Ray drew the biggest fan mobs.
Event judges Gail Simmons, Emeril Lagasse, Marc Murphy and Susie Fogelson picked the crispy shallot, bacon and swiss burger from Whisk for the Golden Grill Award, and Guy Fieri snagged the Heinz Best Dressed Award for topping his bacon patty with thick tomato, onion rings and oozy “donkey sauce.” Many congrats to all the participants — this year’s Bash was juicier than ever!
“Tacos, Yo!” exclaimed host Bobby Flay as he manned the mic at his Saturday night soiree, Patron Tequila’s The Art of the Taco. Presented by Creekstone Farms, the event featured nearly 30 of the country’s hottest chefs who put their own unique spin on the South of the Border staple—with styles ranging from traditional, Mexican-inspired to elevated with French flair.
This time at 82 Mercer, Patron and Corona flowed as taco-lovers bounced from station to station sampling tortillas stuffed with creative combos of steak, lamb, shrimp, tuna, beef tongue, duck, pastrami, lobster, bone marrow, oysters and foie gras.
Tender braised pork carnitas from Mercadito, a Cretan spiced lamb pocket from Kefi’s Michael Psilakis, and Scarpetta chef Scott Conant’s spice crusted lamb neck tacos all made me swoon, while versions with oysters from Riverpark and foie gras from Recette palatably expanded my taco horizons.
Dozens of celebrated chefs and TV personalities (including Aaron Sanchez, Alex Guarnaschelli, Marc Forgione, Claire Robinson, Marcela Valladolid, Debi Mazar, Jeff Mauro, Sunny Anderson and Geoffrey Zakarian) were seen doling out their taco creations, mingling with the crowd and even belting out Bon Jovi. Awesome.
After taking in tons of savory tacos, sweet relief was welcomed by ice cream chilaquiles drizzled with Mexican chocolate chili sauce and Gramercy Tavern’s salted chocolate hazelnut tacos. And after many of Bobby’s margaritas were had by all (hello, Sunday hangover!), the event turned into a late night dance party and guests and chefs alike let loose and had a grand ol’ time.
After maxing out my appetite at Meatball Madness, my stomach was pushed to capacity again at Friday’s Blue Moon Burger Bash, presented by Pat LaFrieda Meats. One of NYCWFF’s most popular events, this sold out meat extravaganza drew more than 20 A-list chefs and food personalities, who served up their “best between a bun” in the ultimate burger throwdown.
Comedian Whoopi Goldberg took over for Rachael Ray to host this year’s massive grillfest at Dumbo’s landmark Tobacco Warehouse. As aromas of sizzling meat and grease wafted through the air, carnivorous guests noshed on burgers and side dishes, sipped Blue Moon brews and Sutter Home wines, and voted for their favorite patty. Beloved burger joints Shake Shack and Bill’s Bar and Burger drew the longest lines, while last year’s People’s Choice winner Bobby Flay attracted the biggest fan mob.
Some of the night’s mouthwatering bites included Beauty and Essex’s Lamb and Brisket Burger (with spicy garlic aioli, vine ripe tomato, goat-feta & pickled red onion), DBGB’s Piggy Burger (beef with BBQ pulled pork, jalapeño mayo, mustard-vinegar slaw & a cheddar bun), and Dram Shop’s Cheeseburger (two beef squares, double cheese & the works). Between burger sampling, attendees indulged in milkshakes and pie with Ace of Cakes star Duff Goldman and belted out 80’s, 90’s and Top 40 hits along with a rockin’ cover band.
Judges David Burke, Anne Burrell, Adam Richman and Andrew Zimmern picked the cheddar cheese, Nueske bacon and brioche “Wisconsin” from Franklin Becker (Abe & Arthur’s) for the win, People’s Choice went to Josh Capon (Burger & Barrel) for his juicy bison round, and Chris Santos (Beauty & Essex) snagged the Heinz Best Dressed Burger Award. Many congrats to all!
Ultimately, this year’s Bash was a blast, even though a sudden mid-event downpour kept me from trying several of the burgers. No big deal—many more delicacies were on my evening’s agenda, and I left Brooklyn to make my way to the all-desserts soiree, SWEET.
Under a moonlit sky behind SoBe’s elegant Delano hotel, grillmaster Bobbly Flay played host at Friday’s 10th annual BubbleQ—one of the Festival’s biggest signature events. During the sexy evening soiree, a lively crowd of partygoers enjoyed free flowing Perrier-Jouët Champagne and gourmet bites from barbecue’s best.
Dozens of BBQ gurus, including host Bobbly Flay himself, along with Rick Bayless, Cat Cora, Todd English, the Allen Brothers, Adam Perry Lang, Marc Vetri, Michael Symon and others, were dishing up their succulent ‘cue—everything from smoky pulled pork sandwiches to saucy shanks, steaks and fall-off-the-bone ribs. Having a selection of this caliber drew really long food lines—the event’s only drawback—but with a flute of bubbly in hand and a rockin’ live band on stage, the waits seemed to fly by. The night was capped off in the Godiva Lounge, which displayed a decadent array of desserts created by Godiva Chocolatier David Funaro. Hmm…Champagne, BBQ and chocolate—does it get any better than this!?
Kicking off this year’s South Beach Wine and Food Festival last night was the 5th annual Amstel Light Burger Bash, hosted by Rachel Ray. The much-anticipated meaty extravaganza drew A-list chefs and food personalities serving up their “best between a bun” for the ultimate burger throw down. Thousands of hungry guests swarmed to the Ritz-Carlton’s beachside tent to sink their teeth into a whopping 26 beefy creations and vote for their favorite. And we’re not talking about your standard patties here—these were some of the best burgers I’ve ever tasted.
During the gluttonous burger bonanza, some chefs chose to forgo the beef all together (elk and foie gras sliders from Tim Love, lamb and anchovy patties from Jonathon Sawyer), while others showcased inventive toppings—Bobby Flay featured crumbled potato chips on his Napa Valley Crunchified and Masaharu Morimoto cracked a fried egg over his Waygu Nikomi Burger.
Michael White offered one of the night’s juiciest bites—a Pat LaFrieda ground and dry-aged beef blend, smothered in American cheese with black tomato and butter lettuce, known as The White Label. And what New Yorker doesn’t love a Shake Shack burger? Danny Meyer knows not to mess with a good thing and doled out his famous Black Angus piled with American cheese, lettuce, tomato and “shack sauce”—a classic done well.
2009 People’s Choice winner Spike Mendelsohn dressed up as the Hamburglar in hopes of stealing back the title this year, but all tactics aside, his Colletti Smokehouse burger spoke for itself—with applewood smoked bacon, cheddar, beer-battered onion rings, chipotle BBQ sauce and a delicious toasted marshmallow milkshake to wash it all down with.
Other stand-outs included the Vermont cheddar, crispy onion and horseradish pepper sauced patty from Michael Schlow, and The Ritz Carlton’s decadent Hobb’s bacon and foie gras torchon topped Bistro Burger, served with earthy black truffle taters. And of course (drum roll please)…the two big winners of the night:
Marc Murphy snagged the prestigious Judges’ Favorite for the Big Marc—an all-beef patty on a homemade cheddar cheese and black pepper bun with spiked ketchup and bread-and-butter pickles. The cleverly executed burger and side of jalapeño tots was a truly title-deserving combo. (*Now, burger lovers can try the Big Marc themselves—it’s a new menu addition at NYC’s Ditch Plains and Landmarc. Go get one, trust me.)
Finally, Iron Chef Michael Symon defended his 2010 title and was crowned People’s Choice award winner for the second year in a row! The salty and spicy Yo! Burger, from Symon’s B Spot in Cleveland, won over the crowd with bold flavors from fried salami, provolone cheese, pickled onions and his mother-in-law’s zesty shasha sauce. And the Nutella and hazelnut liqueur milkshake that came with it? Sold me on the first sip.
Congrats to all the winners and competitors who made Burger Bash 2011 a smashing success! After I powered my way through, bite by bite, I sought chocolately relief from Jacque Torres, but even I was too stuffed for dessert. After all, I have a long weekend of eating ahead and am saving my sweet tooth for tonight’s Let Them Eat Cake event. Enjoy some of Burger Bash’s best shots below:
The battle for the best is fierce, but what’s your favorite burger?
MESA turns up the heat a little longer! Chef and restauranteur, Bobby Flay, just announced that he is extending the NYC Restaurant Week lunch special for his renowned MESA Grill restaurant through the end of this week.
I am a huge fan of Bobby Flay. He’s one of my favorite Chef-turned-TV-personalities to watch (I am obsessed with Throwdown! and love his straight-shooting, yet encouraging approach as a judge on The Next Food Network Star) and man, can he cook! Bobby isn’t afraid to bring on the heat, use chilies that you’ve never heard of before or get ballsy in the kitchen—and it certainly pays off.
Just one of his many distinctive restaurants, MESA Grill is a powerhouse NYC staple (with locations in Vegas and the Bahamas too) which boasts big, bold flavored cuisine and creative cocktails. The eclectic menu is a celebration of Bobby’s love of the grill and the punchy, spicy flavors of the American Southwest. I’ve never had a dish from here that failed to delight & excite in a truly memorable fashion and yesterday’s Restaurant Week lunch was no exception. For those of you who haven’t dined at MESA yet, do your taste buds a favor and go!
Experience MESA Grill at 102 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10011.