SOBEWFF 2019: Miami Dominates Burger Bash and Art of Tiki

Each year, the South Beach Wine & Food Festival attracts the best chefs from around the world, allowing attendees the opportunity to sample fare from the greatest bars and restaurants without leaving South Florida.

Last evening, however, Miami establishments dominated two of the festival's marquee events, with local bars and restaurants taking home multiple awards at both the Burger Bash and Art of Tiki competitions.

The aroma of grilled meat wafted through the sultry night air as thousands chowed on burgers and beer at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival's Burger Bash last evening.

Restaurants across the country participated in last evening's Burger Bash including Chicago's Avec and New York City's the Meatball Shop. Local Miami participants included Latin House, Barley, Sakaya Kitchen, Pincho Factory, Fooq's, and Tucker Duke's. Even Planta was on hand to offer a delicious vegan alternative to the beefy offerings.

Burger Bash hosts, David Burtka and Neil Patrick Harris, awarded three prizes, with burgers named winners by both attendees and a panel of judges in the quest for the "Very Best Burger."

Two Miami area restaurants took home awards for their burgers with the third going to what many consider to be one of the finest burgers in the nation.

Pincho Factory won the coveted Heineken Light People's Choice Award and LT Steak & Seafood received the Schweid & Sons' Very Best Burger award.

Chicago's Avec was named Red Robin's Best of the Bash for its Raclette Burger, a winning combination of a grilled steak burger topped with molten raclette cheese, bread and butter pickles, and special sauce on a Martin's potato roll. The burger was served with a side of fried cauliflower drizzled with spiced lemon honey.

Over at Art of Tiki, bartenders from the best tiki bars across the country created their own versions of classic tiki drinks. 

Criteria for the rum-based libations included balance of flavors and presentation — an important part of a tiki cocktail. The bartenders, as usual, presented the potent potables in creative tiki mugs garnished with gilded flowers and flashing lights, in some cases. Bartenders presented their drinks to host Ted Allen and a cadre of judges (including myself), wearing costumes and creating elaborate backstories for their libations.

Jorgie Ramos won the Judge's Choice award for his I Love Cuba cocktail, served in a handmade coconut mug.

Ben Potts and his team at Beaker & Gray won the Peoples' Choice award and was named the overall tiki winner. Potts and his team presented the cocktails dressed as futuristic robots complete with flashing lights and sound effects. In 2017, Potts and company won Art of Tiki dressed as top-hatted voodoo zombies.

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