Capon, Fieri Share NYCWFF Burger Bash Crown, Denamiel Takes Home Judge’s Choice
Twenty-six burgers entered and, for the first time ever, three left as winners at the New York City Wine & Food Festival Burger Bash last Friday night. Burger & Barrel’s Josh Capon made it a three-peat, claiming the People’s Choice award for the fourth time in five years but this time, he shared the top prize with Guy Fieri in the fest’s first-ever tie. The third big winner on the night was Paul Denamiel of Le Rivage who took home the Judge’s Award.
The 6th annual event took place at Pier 92 in Hell’s Kitchen, a much welcomed change from last year’s Basketball City location with the more spacious new venue providing a lot more elbow room for the boozing, burger-binging crowd to get their eat on. Once again, Rachel Ray did the hosting duties, Blue Moon poured the beer and Pat LaFrieda supplied the meat for the competitors.
Capon’s winning entry was his go-to Bash Burger with caramelized onion and bacon jam, shaved pickles, American cheese and a secret sauce. The platinum beauty Fieri, representing his Times Square joint, hooked up a Bacon Mac ‘n Cheese burger with Applewood smoked bacon, a four-cheese mac n’ cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion pickle, something called SMC™ (super-melty cheese) and garlic butter on a toasted brioche bun. The judge’s favorite burger by Denamiel as selected by a foursome of food TV stars –Joe Bastianich, Adam Richmond, Geoffrey Zakarian and Andrew Zimmern– was a French Onion Soup creation (sounds familiar…) made with stewed onions, bechamel and emmental cheese on a toasted Thomas English Muffin. (For the record, Denamiel’s entry was sponsored by Thomas’. We know this because he mentioned it about 10 times during his acceptance speech.)
As for the Crew’s showing, we strapped on our big boy pants this year and managed to throw 12 (up from 10 in 2012) of the 26 burger entries into our bellies. Highlights included Capon’s winning burger, Schnipper’s (a favorite from last year) Smokey Double Bacon Cheeseburger with American, caramelized onions, bacon and bacon mayo, the SmokeShack from Shake Shack (naturally) and a decadent, tasty as all hell ‘Turf and Surf” burger from Porter House topped with Maine lobster butter. Our main man, Mr. Bobby Flay, busted out a “crunchified” Carolina Burger which earned a thumbs up from us when we downed it earlier this summer.
Distilled’s entry, topped with gooey American cheese, fried onions and a sweet and spicy poblano relish was skewered with a stick-shaped tater tot, with more of the crispy, salty fried starch sticks on the burger itself. It was seasoned to perfection, with the saltiness of the patty balancing beautifully with the incredibly flavorful sweet relish. The tots were an unexpected bonus and along with the fried onions, gave the burger a slight, but much appreciated crunch with each bite. We need this burger again.
For our other fave of the Bash, we waited in what may have been the longest line of the night. The Lion’s “Smoked Lion” burger, however, was most definitely worth the wait. A special, propriety blend of beef was topped with provolone, smoked cheddar, DEEP FRIED PORK BELLY, confit tomato, sweet caramelized onions and came on a potato bun with pickled relish and a shot of smoke. It was a magnificent combination of ingredients and we’d love to see some enterprising D.C. joint put this thing on a menu down here.
While our stomachs would beg to differ, the NYC Bash is actually just a warm up to the main event, the SoBe Burger Bash taking place in just four months. The Miami beef bonanza is, without a doubt, the premier celebration of the best sandwich of all-time and is a required Bucket List item for any true burger connoisseur. And it’s all going down less than 120 days from now.
Damn– we hope we’re done digesting by then.