February 26th, 2010

South Beach Wine & Food Festival: The Burger Bash

The Fat Doug - Symon's pastrami, swiss cheese and coleslaw

The Fat Doug - Symon's pastrami, swiss cheese and coleslaw

Last night’s Amstel Light Burger Bash was the night of the Michaels. Chefs Michael Schwartz and Michael Symon of B Spot had two of my favorite burgers of the night and, as you probably already know, both won the top awards with Schwartz impressing a panel of judges and Symon taking the people’s vote. D and I each had one chip to cast our votes and each Michael got one of our two.

Michael's Genuine Bacon Cheeseburger

Michael's Genuine Bacon Cheeseburger

We thought we were off to a bad start when we saw the line of people that went off the beach and almost reached the cul de sac in front of the Ritz-Carlton, but the line moved pretty fast considering the amount of people in front of us.


Once inside, we decided to tackle the 27 booths by first visiting the ones with burgers we absolutely wanted to taste. The Burger Beast was there and suggested that we start at the back and work forward. That made total sense but we ended up just bouncing from place to place. By the end of the night, we managed to taste 16 of the 27 burgers.

Our first stop was at Bourbon Steak, which served Michael Mina’s Signature Beef Burger with a bourbon snow cone. It was a good burger.

Bourbon Steak

Bourbon Steak

Jeff and Zach Chodorow’s Bacon Beach Burger from China Grill Management surprised us. The patty was served on a potato roll topped with bacon, American cheese, spicy pickles and a special sauce. D liked it a lot. He favors well prepared classic burgers over those with fancy toppings that coat the patty’s flavor. His words.


China Grill

I had high hopes for db Bistro Moderne’s burger, which chef Daniel Boulud served himself. It was a good burger but maybe not as good as I expected.


db Bistro Moderne

Another one I had high hopes for was Tim Love’s Dirty Love Burger, made from ground brisket and tenderloin and topped with lettuce, American cheese, Love sauce, applewood smoked wild boar bacon, homemade pickles and a fried quail egg. Unfortunately, the patty was dry.

Chef Spike Mendelsohn of Good Stuff Eatery was all show in his booth, sporting a boxing robe and gloves and posing often for pictures. His burger was good but didn’t stand out this time around. I liked the cotton candy, though.


The Crunchy BBQ Kobe Burger served by Marcus Samuelsson and Meat Market’s South Beach Market Slider were good entries. Bill’s Bar & Burger also had a good classic cheeseburger. But I think the winners deserved to win.


The two other awards went to Iron Chef Matsahura Morimoto for best dressed burger and The Standard Hotel’s chef Mark Zeitouni for best side. We didn’t try Morimoto’s burger because the line was ridiculous, the only one that was really long. After waiting for a while and noticing that the line was being held up by people taking not one, but two and three pictures with the chef, we decided to move on.

To end the night, I tried a delicious cone of salty caramel artisanal ice cream from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in Ohio.


In all we had a lot of fun. Yes, there were a lot of people; 2,400 voting chips were handed out last night and that probably doesn’t include the chefs, their staff and the festival staff. We frequently got bumped by people but it wasn’t entirely unbearable. Would I pay to go again? I’m not sure.

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7 Responses to “South Beach Wine & Food Festival: The Burger Bash”

  1. half the burgers look raw!

  2. Marysol, I typically don’t like a burger that is that undercooked but that one was really good. Most of the ones we had were cooked perfectly.

    I guess it is personal tastes.

  3. Nice recap. I tend to agree with D regarding the patty/toppings

  4. I also agree w/ D on patty/toppings. In fact, that’s the reason that I still liked Burger & Beer Joint’s burger when I did the Burger Beast Miami Burger Tour. It was cold and had no toppings but the meat was cooked perfectly and had a ton of flavor.

    Awesome time at Best of the Best last night!!

  5. Ummm I wish i could of tasted them.. but your description is very good, i could almost taste them… I’m the mood for a burger, thing is i’m still full from the rodeo cook -off…

  6. D, Chowfather and SteveBM – You guys are onto something. TIME’s article about the Burger Bash revolved around the classic burger and how there was little innovation among the contestants. But why improve on what already works?

  7. I wanted to try that Bourbon Steak burger!!! It looked the prettiest to me :)

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