Each year at the Burger Bash, standard awards are doled out for people's choice, best-dressed burger, best side dish, and judges' favorite at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, which opens Thursday.. Some chefs cheat by offering the same burger every year, yet nevertheless win our hearts with inventive takes on America's favorite meat patty. But isn't the point of culinary competition to wow us? It might be time to challenge the status quo with a few awards that encourage a deeper sense of rivalry among this year's Amstel Light Burger Bash participants.
Here is New Times' wish list for award categories that remain uncovered by the event, because what chef wouldn't be proud to serve burgers to folks who are so hung over they can barely eat? The "people's choice" indeed.
Best Burger for a Hangover
It's the morning after, and everything hurts. The road to your speedy recovery is paved with a burger for brunch; after all, Sunday morning is time for a meal that lazy meatheads can easily consume with one hand. We'd like a chef to sit down and truly consider what ingredients could go on a hangover patty. Should it be spicy to kick-start the heart, or mild to coat the alcohol-soaked tummy? A burger version of ramen noodle soup might work recuperation magic.
Best Burger for Breakfast
Last year, the clear winner would have been Masaharu Morimoto's Wagyu patty topped with a fried egg, but here's hoping chefs will bring all sorts of breakfast-inspired goodness to the table in 2012. A duck burger sandwiched between two waffles? A bacon burger wrapped in pancakes like pigs in a blanket? We can totally handle red meat in the morning.
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Most Offal Burger
We'd like to see a local succeed, so perhaps someone should persuade participating chef Timon Balloo from midtown's superemporium of small bites, Sugarcane Raw Bar & Grill, to turn his bone marrow with veal cheek marmalade into the most "offal" burger in the Burger Bash lineup. Because offal seems to be trending, we're in favor of anything from pig's ears to liver burgers.
Best Burger on a Roll
Strange how no award acknowledges the all-important role of the burger bun. A sad, flat, basic sesame-studded roll can ruin a perfectly good patty. Give us flecks of sea salt and fennel, maybe black sesame seeds and nori, or even a cornbread variety. And calling all pastry chefs: Brioche with a high egg and butter content is always a safe bet.
Although the best side dish receives its share of praise, the trappings seem to go unnoticed. That's a tragedy for chefs who whip up a little something special to entice voters. Spike Mendelsohn's toasted marshmallow shake has been offered several times, and we truly hope it will make another appearance this year. Let's reward chefs who fly below the hard deck to get their burger bogey.