The eighth annual Amstel Light Burger Bash was held on Friday night under the big tent at the 14th Annual South Beach Wine and Food Festival, and 31 chefs from around the country gathered to celebrate the most American of foods, the burger. Buns ranged from ramen to plantains, toppings ranged from potato sticks to pimento cheese, and patties ranged from salmon to pork, but the vast majority took a beef and cheese route, and at the end of the day Michael Symon’s creation took the win, for the fourth time in eight years.
The burger was called the ‘Fat Doug,’ and was a beef patty topped with coleslaw, pastrami slices grilled up to resemble bacon, Castello havarti cheese, and ballpark-style mustard. It hit all the right notes and was absolutely stellar, but certainly had plenty of competition.
The winner has gone back and forth over the years, with Lure Fishbar’s Josh Capon also winning several times. At the Bash he served the burger that started it all back when he got his first win, and it was certainly a close call: his classic Bash Burger was topped with a decadent caramelized onion and bacon jam, shaved pickles, American cheese, and secret sauce, and was served alongside salt and vinegar tater tots.
While the People’s Choice is the evening’s big winner, there’s also a second award given, for the one that the judges on hand preferred. Andrew Zimmern, Geoffrey Zakarian, Anne Burrell, and musician Trisha Yearwood were this year’s judges, and they chose Shake Shack’s 10th Anniversary Dry Aged Blend, topped with a pile of crunchy fried onions. It was insanely delicious, and we’re hoping that they add it to the permanent menu.
Other standouts included the Original Ramen Burger made famous at Brooklyn’s Smorgasburg, Chris Santos’ ‘Big Sexy’ topped with caramelized onions, American cheese, and secret sauce, Holeman & Finch’s famous H&F Burger, a double patty creation that won our award for America’s Best Burger, Marc Murphy’s ‘Murph-u-letta,’ topped with giardiniera, provolone, sopressata, and green olive aioli, and the Miami classic Frita Cubana, a thin patty topped with fried potato sticks, from local legend El Rey de las Fritas.
As usual, the event was organized chaos, with long lines for the more popular burgers, but at the end everybody got to try everything they wanted, and as always it was a smashing success.
We’ll see you next year!