Is the snooty food world ganging up on Katie Lee Joel? When singer Billy Joel’s wife, a cookbook author, took the award for top burger at the New York City Wine & Food Festival’s Burger Bash last fall, it was a juicy upset. Her thin beef patty with cheese, served between two pieces of buttered bread, won over entries from Shake Shack, Laurent Tourondel, Michael Lomonaco, and David Burke. Some people called it “just a glorified grilled cheese, and maybe it is,” says Katie Lee, who is gearing up to defend her title this week at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Nevertheless, she argues, “New Yorkers like a good burger. They’re impressed by food, not personalities.” But Lee Schrager, organizer of both the New York and the South Beach Wine & Food Festivals, says Mrs. Joel’s enthusiastic campaigning helped: “People came by, she smiled, she took a picture, she said, ‘Will you vote for me?’ ” Could her tactics have helped her to secure the win? Billy Joel rushes to the defense of his wife: “She makes a great burger and people recognized that.”
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