The Burger Bash is one of the most anticipated events of the New York City Wine & Food Festival, and this year’s showing was certainly one to remember. Hundreds of hungry diners paid a whopping $225 to roam the rooftop of New York’s Pier 92 for three hours while sampling more than two dozen burgers from top New York restaurants and drinking copious amounts of wine and Blue Moon. It was a glutton’s paradise, and even though the lines were occasionally unbearably long, it was just about impossible to go home unsatisfied.
Nearly 30 different burgers were handed out; some quartered, some halved, and some served whole (Shake Shack, which went above and beyond by creating a pork cracklin’ and cheese topped burger for the occasion, famously always serves whole burgers). For the first time, participants were also allowed to serve macaroni and cheese; S’Mac, Schiller’s Liquor Bar, by CHLOE, Catch, and Brennan Hospitality Group all served their own takes on the legendary side.
“It’s absolutely huge, and it’s known all over the country,” Brennan Hospitality Group’s Terrance Brennan, who served a mac and cheese carbonara with cauliflower and guanciale, told me when asked why he decided to participate in the Bash for the first time in several years. “It’s for a good cause, and there’s so much going on for foodies. People love the celebrity chef stuff, too.”
While many of the huge celebrity chefs who had been familiar presences at previous Burger Bashes, like Bobby Flay and Michael Symon, didn’t participate this year (and perennial winner Josh Capon joined Coolio, New York Jet Nick Mangold, and Robert Irvine at the Judges’ table this year instead of competing), some of the city’s most well-known chefs were on hand, including Saxon+Parole’s Brad Farmerie, Porter House’s Michael Lomonaco, Jacques Torres Chocolate’s Jacques Torres, and Altamarea Group’s Michael White were on hand.
Standout burgers included The Ainsworth’s Mac n’ Cheese Burger (topped with cheese sauce, a fried mac and cheese patty, and bacon jam), Shake Shack’s afore-mentioned Crackle Shack, Smith & Wollensky’s Dry-Aged Cheeseburger (with bone marrow and mushroom marmalade), Porter House’s Double Stack Twin Burger (double patties, secret sauce, American cheese, red onion jam, jalapeno pickles), Costata’s White Label Patty Melt (dry aged beef, bacon marmalade, white American cheese, and McClure’s pickles), and Emily’s EMMY Burger (dry-aged beef, special sauce, sautéed onion, Grafton Cheddar, and cornichons on a pretzel bun). One notable trend was double-patty burgers, which were more prevalent tonight than in recent years.
Two relative dark horses ended up taking home the evening’s awards: BBD’s, which is located in Rocky Point, Long Island (one of the few participants from outside the city), won the Judges’ Choice Award for their steamed cheeseburger topped with diced onions and pickles on a soft white bun, and the prestigious People’s Choice Award went to Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer, who served a loosely-packed burger topped with blue cheese, buttermilk sauce, and arugula on a potato bun.
Even though the Burger Bash may be over, the festival is still just getting started, with plenty more events to come. For all our New York Wine & Food Festival coverage, click here.