Nearly 3,500 people crammed into last night’s Burger Bash, the kickoff event for this year’s South Beach Food and Wine Festival. While bash mascot Rachael Ray handed out samples of her new dog-food line, chefs like Laurent Tourondel, Spike Mendelsohn (dressed like the Hamburgler), Masaharu Morimoto, Geoffrey Zakarian, and Michael White slung burgers in hopes of winning the competition. In the end, Michael Symon won the People’s Choice award for the second year in a row, and Landmarc’s Marc Murphy took the Judge’s Favorite prize for his Big Marc burger. We caught up to the winners and got the lowdown on their strategies.
“We were excited, man,’’ Symon told Grub. “I thought lightening can’t strike twice — we were honored!’’ What was the thinking behind his Yo! Burger, topped with fried salami, aged provolone, and his mother-in-law’s hot sauce? “We go big or go home,” he says. “We wanted our burgers to pop with big flavors but also have balance, so the sauce was spicy, the salami salty, and then the pickled onion and basil cut through the richness.”
As for first-time winner Murphy, whose beefy Big Marc burger came on a Cheddar bun? He says it was all about the architecture: “We incorporated the Cheddar cheese and pepper into the bun to make it one less step while cooking on the beach,” he told us. “Placing the bread-and-butter pickles on the bottom catches the juices from the meat and also protects the bun from getting soggy. And adding vodka to the aïoli and ketchup created something different and gave the sauce a little kick.”