Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The 3rd Annual Burgie Awards

Burger lover and all-around good guy, Sef Gonzalez, aka The Burger Beast got quite a crew together for the 3rd Annual Burgie Awards this past Saturday at Magic City Casino.  The event was huge!  There were 40 food trucks and 12 restaurants set up in the parking lot, creating an enormous outdoor food court of sorts.  The Beastman reached out to me and asked if I'd help him by being a judge for the best burger category.  I was one of 7 judges on the panel selected to taste 22 different burgers (12 restaurants, 10 food trucks) LIVE in a blind tasting.  The rest of the panel was made up of The Chowfather, 954 Burger Boi, Carlos Acosta aka "Certified Ill", a couple of people from Copperpot's, and Short Order writer and Chowfather arch nemesis, Laine Doss.  A motley crew indeed.

At 5pm the burgers started floating into the VIP tent to the judges table and the carnage began.  Having attended the Burger Bash at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival last year, I knew that I had to pace myself in the beginning stages in order to make it to the end.  With 22 burgers to sample, any overindulgence would be sure to bury me.  I stuck to that plan and survived.  The Chowfather did not have a game plan and, against my warning, went heavy on the first burger.  By burger #9 he wasn't looking too good.  By burger 15 he was banged up bad.  After burger 22 let's just say some Magic City palms got some angus-filled fertilizer.

The quality of burgers ranged from awful to awesome.  My qualifications for a great burger start with the patty.  It's gotta be fresh and seasoned.  That Sysco crap doesn't cut it.  Matter of fact, it's pretty disgusting.  After that, the bun has gotta be solid.  If the bottom bun can't handle the juicy burger and becomes soggy, that's a partial fail in my book.  With patty and bun out of the way, it's all about the toppings.  If the toppings provide good flavor enhancement without getting too crazy and/or sloppy, we've got a winner.

Here's a look at the contestants.  First up, the restaurant entries:

Burger & Beer Joint - Judges' Choice for Restaurant Best Burger

Charm City Burgers

Cheeseburger Baby

Georgie's Alibi

Gilbert's 17th Street Grill


The Local - Judges' Choice Runner Up for Restaurant Best Burger

Tobacco Road


Sakaya Kitchen

Pincho Factory
La Camaronera's Lobster Burger was a waste of time and lobster.  It was a burger competition.
 Here are the food truck entries:

Bite Gastrotruck
Dim Ssam a Gogo

Jefe's Original - Runner Up for Judges' Choice Food Truck Best Burger

gastroPod - Judges' Choice for Food Truck Best Burger

Latin Burger was DQ'd for delivering their own burgers.  Don't worry, they didn't go to waste.  I hooked up some homeless folks on my ride home.

Miso Hungry

Latin House Grill

El Rincon del Coqui

Purple People Eatery

The Rolling Stove
My top burgers in the restaurant category went like this:

Burger & Beer Joint - burger patty seasoned beautifully.  Worthy bun.  Bacon, pickle, and just a touch of bbq enhance the flavor.  This is the one to beat.
The Local - tender patty cooked to a nice medium-rare with bacon flavor present.  Nice bun.  Went a little overboard with the mustard but not too bad.  Cheese and onion added nice flavor.  Side of crunchy fries flecked with salt were fantastic but did not factor into the scoring plus I only had two to save room.
Sakaya Kitchen - toppings rule this one with green onion, tots, cheese, and ssamjang (a thick, Korean spicy dressing) combining for an interesting flavor combo.  Just wish the patty wasn't lost in all of that.
Gilbert's 17th St Grill - this one was huge.  Patty had a great char on it but wasn't seasoned enough to survive without the nice slab of bacon on top.  English muffin was an interesting choice for a bun but worked for me.  Egg and cheese rounded out the flavors

My top burgers in the food truck category were:

gastroPod - perfect size, seasoned patty, perfect med-rare.  Runny egg, spicy mayo sauce, and thin sliced homemade pickles had this mouth party rockin'.  Potato bun held it all together.  Kickass burger.
Jefe's Original - All-American burger with decent patty flavor.  A replica In-N-Out burger with lettuce, tomato, cheese, and secret sauce.  Clean fresh flavors here.
The Rolling Stove - nice char makes the bun nice and crisp.  Equal char on the patty provided good flavor and seasoned well too.  Sauce a little strange, slightly sweet but not bad.  Onions were a little strong here but overall a standout burger.
Purple People Eatery - great med-rare temp on this one.  I disagreed with some judges who didn't like the blue cheese.  I liked it and on my burger it wasn't overdone but added nicely to the sprouts and tomato.  Seemed to have a sweetness there which after further inspection may have been onion jam but can't be sure.
Dim Ssam a Gogo - Kinda dumb to have this one again as it's the same as Sakaya Kitchen but regardless where they make the burger it's still a pretty good one.

I will admit it was rough getting bites from all of these burgers down the hatch and after the competition was over it was even harder to stand amongst the food court smelling nothing but burgers.  Luckily, a buddy had brought some Maker's Mark which aided the digestion process.  In the end, I was happy to have participated in my 3rd consecutive Burgie Awards ceremony (2nd straight live).  It was a great event and much congrats due to the Beast himself for putting it all together.  Another victory in his battle to raise more awareness to the American food that he loves best - the burger.


chadzilla said...

Nice write-up,BM. You are equally knowledgeable and descriptive in the ways of burgers and doo doo. The only thing that could have taken this post to a higher level would be an end throwdown between the Chowfather and Doss. I presume that civility prevailed throughout the tastings, or did Chowfather simply have to focus his attention on his colon instead of his nemesis?
Also amazed at how you were able to sort through all of those burger shots and remember which was which from the photos.
You've been a long time trumpeter of the B&BJ burger, and I've still not been.
We should get a follow-up post of Chowfather post-tasting or perhaps a doctor's report.

SteveBM said...

Hahaha, thanks! I was surprised Chowfather was making small talk although there was a handshake snub that I got a good laugh out of. I'm pretty sure he's going to put a post together with his thoughts, probably tier style. I have a kickass memory but in this case I took pics of each burger along with notes on my phone identified by number and then asked the Beast to forward me the order we ate them in later that night. From there it was just matching them up.