Last Thursday night, under a crystal clear fall sky, with the city skyline shimmering in the background, the NYC Wine & Food Festival’s 7th annual Burger Bash took place on the Hudson River’s Pier 92. People can debate whether or not the burger is a sandwich; it doesn’t matter. And one can also argue as to whether the burger itself is America’s most iconic food. Perhaps. But what’s inarguable is that this event is the Super Bowl of hamburgers. You’ve got the sold out crowd. A veritable who’s who of the food world’s illuminati (Rachael Ray, Marcus Samuelsson, Andrew Zimmern, Anne Burrell, Robert Irvine, Alex Guarnaschelli, and Adam Richman among them). But most importantly, you have a bevy of talented chefs preparing world-class burgers for all to taste, and judge.
There were delectable varieties of toppings (from caramelized shallots to homemade kimchi), cheeses (from muenster to Comte), special sauces (from aioli to avocado mayo), and assorted sides (from parmesan truffle fries to salt & vinegar kettle chips) surrounding burgers and sliders of dry aged beef, beef cheeks, brisket, and lamb. At the end of the night, Marc Murphy won the judges’ vote for his “Lamb-Marc Burger” topped with mint chimichurri, and Josh Capon won the people’s choice (again) for his Bash Burger with onion-bacon jam.
It’s not as easy as it might appear to make the perfect hamburger. Obviously you need the best possible meat, well-seasoned, cooked to the right temperature, topped by the ideal complements, all harmoniously composed on a great bread of some sort. Ironically, I noticed no ketchup whatsoever at the event. On the other hand, a note to chefs: please step away from the truffle oil! Not only is it overwhelming, it’s the big car of the food world, i.e., a compensation for something missing. Aside from that small fault, the 2014 Burger Bash was a smashing and delicious success.
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