Bobby Flay’s Crunchified Green Chile Burger took the People’s Choice Award at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, dashing the dream of fellow Food Network star Michael Symon to win for a fourth consecutive year. Symon’s entry this year was a Gruyère-topped French Onion Burger. A vanquished Symon tweeted “congrats to my boy @bflay for burger bash win..if im gonna come in second..have no prob losing to b..his burger was killer!!”
The winning burger is on the menu at Flay’s Bobby’s Burger Palace restaurants for one week beginning Monday, Feb. 25.
It turned out to be a night of first-time winners. Though neither a burger expert nor a restaurant operator like Flay and Symon, Jeff Mauro, host of Food Network’s “Sandwich King,” walked away with the Pat LaFrieda Meats-sponsored Judges Award for his Patty Melt. The Heinz-sponsored Best Dressed Burger Award was given to Chef Craig Koketsu of Quality Meats in New York City.
Red Robin Gourmet Burgers was the inaugural sponsor of a Best of the Bash Award. SVP-Chief Marketing Officer Denny Post and Director of Culinary Scott Weaver presented the award to Chef Laurent Tourondel of LT Burger (and other restaurants). One of the early “celebrity chefs” to embrace the possibilities of upscale burgers, Tourondel won with a Smash Smoke Burger. Toppings include black-peppered bacon, New York State Cheddar, Spanish onion, and sweet ketchup. Red Robin says it will be included in the premium-burger line the chain intends to roll out later this year.
Among the contestants making a first appearance in the competition was Shane Schaibly, corporate chef for Front Burner Brands, management company for the Burger 21 chain. His entry was Tex-Mex Sliders. Other burger-joint operators competing at the Bash were Carlos Barillas (Burger & Beer Joint, Miami Beach, Fla.); Josh Capon (Burger & Barrel, New York City); Randy Garutti (Shake Shack, New York City); Corwin Guzman (Gilbert’s 17th Street Grill, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.); Matt & Priscilla Kuscher (Lokal Burgers & Beer, Miami); Tim Love (Love Shack, Fort Worth, Texas); Paul Malvone (Boston Burger Co., Boston); Robbyn Martinez (ROK BRGR Burger Bar & Gastropub, Miami); Anthony Meidenbauer (Holsteins Shakes and Buns, Las Vegas); Michael Saperstein (Charm City Burger Company, Deerfield Beach, Fla.), and Stephanie Vitori (Cheeseburger Baby, Miami Beach, Fla.).