There’s one day a year where my status goes jumps from Burger Famous to Burger Royalty and it is a super, glorious, Burgeriffic day of meaty celebration. Each September brings the Food Network NY Wine & Food Festival back into the Big Apple and its no small to do. Over the course of 4 days, thousands of people from all walks of life flock to more than 100 events all over the city. No matter if you are into Tacos, famous Chefs, Wine, Sweets, food trucks or just about anything else food related, there is an event, if not many that will tickle your taste buds. One of the best parts about the weekend, 100% of the net proceeds of the Festival the Food Bank For New York City.
“Food Bank For New York City recognizes 28 years as the city’s major hunger-relief organization working to end food poverty throughout the five boroughs. As the city’s hub for integrated food poverty assistance, the Food Bank tackles the hunger issue on three fronts – food distribution, income support and nutrition education – all strategically guided by its research. Through its network of approximately 1,000 community-based member programs citywide, the Food Bank helps provide 400,000 free meals a day for New Yorkers in need. The Food Bank’s hands-on nutrition education program in the public schools reaches thousands of children, teens and adults. Income support services including food stamps, free tax assistance for the working poor and the Earned Income Tax Credit put millions of dollars back in the pockets of low-income New Yorkers, helping them to achieve greater dignity and independence. 94% of donations go directly toward food distribution, acquisition and programs in all five boroughs of New York City.”
The best event that happens at the festival is the Blue Moon Burger Bash presented by Pat Lafrieda Meats. Pat LaFrieda, a 4th generation butcher, whose family got into the business when his great Grandfather got into a fight at a butcher shop in Italy as a kid, owns and runs the most heralded Meat purveyor business in the nation. LaFrieda Meats is to what DefJam is to Hip Hop and here in NYC, that make Pat the Jay-Z of meat. Although neither of them invented the game, they definitely improved it all while helping to make New York an even better city. The Lafrieda name when associated with Burger is an assurance of quality Burgeritude.
This is the most sought after event of the whole weekend and the one day of the year I truly can call myself Burger Royalty. Tickets sell out in moments after they’re announced and are practically impossible to get. In fact, you might have better chances on getting Pat Lafrieda to deliver directly to your house and having Josh Capon or Jonathan Schnipper cooking it for you. I would like to send out a WHOPPING, double patty sized thank you to Robin Insley & Associates for once again hooking me up with the raddest pass in the land!
So what does one experience as a member of the Burger Imperial Family? Let me show you. The Blue Moon Burger Bash pops up in the gorgeous Tobacco Warehouse in just underneath the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s an amazing open air building with spectacular views of Manhattan and the waterfront. Even if it rains, like it did this year, it’s still an awesome place to have this event. FYI – no one left because of a little water.
Participating Restaurants and Chefs:
ABC Kitchen Dan Kluger www.abckitchennyc.com
Abe & Arthur’s Franklin Becker www.abeandarthurs.com
B & B Josh Capon www.burgerandbarrel.com
Baked Renato Poliafito & Matt Lewis www.bakednyc.com
Bark Hot Dogs Joshua Sharkey www.barkhotdogs.com
Beauty & Essex Christopher Santos www.beautyandessex.com
Benoit Philippe Bertineau www.benoitny.com
Bill’s Bar & Burger Brett Reichler www.billsbarandburger.com
Bobby’s Burger Palace Bobby Flay www.bobbyflay.com
Burger & Barrel Josh Capon www.burgerandbarrel.com
Custom Burgers Michael Coury www.otgmanagement.com
DBGB Kitchen and Bar Oliver Quignon www.dbgb.com
Fresco by Scotto On The Go www.frescobyscotto.com
Goodburger Tom Galis www.goodburgerny.com
Holsteins Shakes and Buns Anthony Meidenbauer www.holsteinslv.com
Landmarc Marc Murphy www.marc-murphy.com
Porter House New York Michael Lomonaco www.porterhousenewyork.com
Quality Meats Craig Koketsu www.qualitymeatsnyc.com
Restaurant Marc Forgione Marc Forgione www.marcforgione.com
Schnipper’s Quality Kitchen Jonathan Schnipper www.schnippers.com
Shake Shack Mark Rosati www.shakeshack.com
Sutter Home Winery
The Dram Shop Lesley Stockton www.dramshopbrooklyn.com
The Burger Bash could also be called the Burger Dash. With doors opening at 7pm, attendees have only 90 minutes to sample Burgers before placing their vote for which Chef and restaurant presented the best Burger. Unless you J. Kenji Lopez-Alt from A Hamburger Today, there’s no way you could possibly eat all of them, let alone before the voting period ends, by the end of the event! Here’s an account of what I was able to ram into my pie hole.
Burger & Barrel
Chef Josh Capon
B&B Bison Burger: Bison Burger, Slab Bacon, Smoked Cheddar & Secret Sauce.
Josh’s “Bash Burger” from his seafood restaurant Lure, was the recipient of the coveted “People’s Choice” award at the 2009 Burger Bash. There was a lot of hype around this burger that comes from a seafood restaurant. Kyle and Brett from Burger Bedlam swear by this burger giving it the highest rating on their site, 98 out of 100. They’re unbridled passion for Burgers made the two of them the perfect Burger Compatriots for me to crush Burgs’ with at the fest. So why not start with their fave???
I’m still waiting on confirmation but I am pretty sure what we ate is not what the program advertised (above.) I’m pretty sure we were served Josh’s famous Bash Burger because it DEFINITELY had Pickles and I DEFINITELY tore them off and threw them away. Yuck. Other than that, Josh’s Burger is made of true greatness. Always medium-rare & juicy with a nice creaminess from the Cheese and a salty-sweetness from the Bacon-Onion jam. It’s darn tootin’!
Chef Craig Koketsu
The F*uck Fancy Cheese Burger: Quality Meats signature Burger featuring American Cheese.
Quality Meats is one of my favorite Steak Houses in NYC and I’ve praised them up and down as a founding member of the world’s #1 Steak Club, SteakClub7. They’re food and service are exactly as promised, Quality, but I can’t say I have ever had the Burger when dining there. That made it a must try tonight.
Here again, I don’t think the description of the Burger was what was served. This interesting little number came on a square shaped Focacia like Bread and was topped with Cheese, Onions and some kind of Gravy like substance made from a large churning pot of Mushrooms. The patty had a good char on it but the Meat itself was a little dry even though it was full flavored. The Cheese may have been Cheddar but came cross almost like a Nacho Cheese. I have to say, the toppings better than Burger itself but I loved the unique crunchy bun.
Side note, note: The Broccoli Cheese Bites were amazing and ranked as my fave side at the fest!
Chef Dan Kluger
Akaushi Cheeseburger with Herbed Mayo: Aged Bloomsday Cheese, Baby Argula and pickled Jalapeños on a Sesame Bun.
These guys definitely should’ve gotten and award for best smelling booth of the day. Once you caught a whiff of the Burgers on their grills, there was no denying you had to eat one.
One of the messier Burgers I ate that night, this one really stood out because of the REALLY intense jalapeños. We all made a remark about how fresh, tangy and delicious they tasted. I Loved that. The Meat was really juicy, dripping all down my fingers creating a lick-able greasy goodness. Yeah I suck my fingers, so what? I did like this Burger but like Quality Meats, ABC Kitchen’s Burger was better by topping. The toppings would be amazing on the fries.
Restaurant Marc Forgione
Chef Marc Forgione
The Hangover Burger: Dry aged Burger, Everything Bun and Spicy Bacon.
Seriously, this was the year of bait and switch. The Burger was devoid of Bacon and although served on an Everything Bun (that’s so New York!) it was topped with what I think was a Poached Quail Egg, Creamed Spinach, Tomatoes & Ketchup. The Egg was weird and almost rubbery. I don’t like spinach, tomato or ketchup so that definitely handicapped this Burger for me. Even once those were removed, the Burger itself was Just charred and had no juicy beefiness. This would make hangover worse.
Marc Forgione, congrats on your victory on season 3 of The Next Iron Chef. While I am super curious to eat your restaurant, you served my least favorite Burger of the Bash. The focus of the Burger was a mish-mosh of toppings rather than just making sure the patty itself was righteous. Many others resounded with similar feelings.
The Dram Shop
Chef Lesley Stockton
Cheeseburger: Two Beef Squares, Shredded Lettuce, Tomato, Diced Onion, Pickles, Mayonnaise & Mustard.
It was an amazing juxtaposition to have this right after the high concept Burger from Marc Forgione as it was simply a Fancy version of a fast food Burger. I absolutely loved the underplay and for me, this was all about the extra Cheese! If there is a brown liquor focused bar in NYC that serves upscale versions of a White Castle Double Cheeseburger, it clearly needs to go to the top of my MUST EAT list.
Beauty & Essex
Chef Christopher Santos
Lamb & Brisket Burger: Spicy Garlic Aioli, Vine Ripe Tomato, Goat-Feta and pickled Red Onion.
The first word that came out of my mouth after taking only one bite is probably the best word to describe this Burger. However, it is an explicative and although it rhymes with “suck” it certainly was the exact opposite! Chris Santos’ Burger was full of amazing, great unique flavor. The toppings were excellent and bursting with interesting flavor, however, they were definitely understated just enough to allow the Meat itself to be in the flavor spotlight. It all came house on a great little sturdy bun. The odd mix of tasty Meat was rich, juicy, well cooked at a medium temperature and more than anything else, expertly seasoned. I hope he adds this to the menu at Beauty & Essex because it definitely needs a revisit.
Schnipper’s Quality Kitchen
Chef Jonathan Schnipper
Schnippers Green Chile Cheeseburger: Signature Beef blend, fire-roasted Green Chiles, Aged White Cheddar and Chipotle Dressing.
It was 8:22 and I only had 8 more minutes to decide which Burger should get my vote for the People’s Choice award. With so many good Burgers available, so little time and absolutely not a single square inch of space left in my stomach, I dashed to get one more bite before voting closed. I decided to go out on a high note. Since you can’t lose with a winner, I nabbed myself a Green Chile Cheeseburger from one of my faves, Schnippers!! Despite a lack-luster cooking situation, a broken griddle and the need to serve hundreds of people very quickly, the brothers Schnipp’ and their team, they managed to nail the Burger I love so much. Served on a perfectly griddle toasted Bun, this delicious little beast had just the right amount of heat, gooey cheese and fantastically seasoned, perfectly cooked beefy goodness.
Heinz Best Dressed Burger Award
Winner: Beauty & Essex’s Christopher Santos
Photo thanks to Business Wire
People’s Choice Award
Winner: Burger & Barrel’s Josh Capon
Photo thanks to Zagatbuzz.
Judge’s Choice Award
Judges; David Burke, Adam Richman, Andrew Zimmer & Anne Burrell
Winner: Abe & Arthur’s Franklin Becker
Photo thanks to Zagatbuzz.
All in all, it was a fast-paced, super-fun and ridiculously delicious event. I appreciate the chance to be a part of it every year. Burger props to Brett & Kyle from Burger Bedlam, it was a pleasure to dine with you. A ridiculously loud “WASSSP PLAYA” goes to my buddy Jamie Schweid from Burger Maker, I love you and we need drinks soon. As always, Burger Bashin’ would not be the same without some hangtime with Burger Idol, George Motz from Hamburger America & Seth Unger from the NY Food Film Fest. (Be sure to catch George’s debut as the new host of “Made In America” this Tuesday, October 4th at 8pm EST on The Travel Channel!)
Sep 30, 2011 – 7:30 pm
THE BURGER COUNTQUEST