Victory for Capon, Pincho Factory & Our Faces at the 2015 South Beach Burger Bash
It’ll take us a while to recover. In fact, we probably won’t be right for at least another month. Between detoxing from all the booze and what we fear may be a permanent case of the meat sweats, we’re struggling to adjust to life post-Burger Bash.
It all happened last Friday as the ninth annual conglomeration of beef, grease and sand went down on the shores of Miami for the 2015 South Beach Food & Wine Festival Amstel Light Burger Bash. Thirty-one entered but only two beef-and-bun combinations left with the hardware of all hardware: sweet-ass burger trophies.
For the first time ever, Josh Capon walked away a winner in South Beach, taking home Bash presenter Schweid & Sons‘ Very Best Burger Award as the judges’ top pick on the night. The Lure Fishbar chef’s winning burger – an onion-bacon-jam-and-cheese combo which owns New York’s version of the Bash – finally did right in Miami, earning the highest scores from the five-judge panel of Dan Le Batard, Katie Lee, George Motz, Chrissy Teigen and Geoffrey Zakarian.
“I’m going to Disney World!” Capon yelled while celebrating at his booth with his team after the victory. “This one is special,” he said when we asked how it compared to winning in NYC. “Maybe I should retire.” For the sake of our bellies, we pray he was joking.
With 2014 champ Michael Symon out of the mix this year, there’d be no People’s Choice repeat and, lo and behold, local favorite Pincho Factory came out on top with their Croquetesa, a brisket-short rib-and-chuck croquette topped with Swiss, pickles, mustard and mayo. Oozing meat, cheese and fried stuff – three of our four major food groups* – Pincho’s pocket of goodness was also one of our favorites on the night.
The Crew’s takeaways from the 2015 Amstel Light South Beach Burger Bash:
1) Shake Shack, once again, rocked our greasy lips off, this time with the new Roadside Shack. It wasn’t a revolutionary combination of toppings but we actually dug the simple bacon-and-caramelized-onion cheeseburger more than their crispy-shallot-topped 2014 winner. Unfortunately, this sucker was a one-and-done deal. Shake Shack’s Edwin Bragg tell us there are no future plans for the burger at the moment. So, for now, we wait…
2) Foie gras. Foie gras. Foie gras. There’s just no topping the taste of that luscious, decadent stuff. It’s beyond compare. Toro NYC busted it out at the Bash in the form of foie gras onions. Combined with a tasty-as-hell onion soup mayo and jalapeno chips, the Toro Burger was one of the best we ate and we’re dying for a full-sized portion of the thing.
3) After reviewing notes, there was a reoccurring combination in three of our top five burgers**: cheese and caramelized onions. In addition to Shake Shack’s Roadside, Delicatessen wowed us with their simple beer braised onion and cheddar cheeseburger and we loved Capon’s caramelized-onion-bacon-jam-and-American champ.
4) There are two main ways Bash competitors serve their burgers: as mini-burgers or as full burgers, split into quarters. While the mini-burger route makes for a better presentation, we think the execution of a split-up, full-sized burger is much better in the taste department.
5) When it doubt, go squishy bun. Some joints went fancy with brioche for their bun choice and, in at least one case, it spoiled the rest of the burger. We really liked everything about Little Bread’s creation but the Nigella seed brioche was just too hard and distracted us from the quality insides. Martin’s FTW.
6) Chrissy Teigen knows how to party. At the end of the night, we’re pretty sure she was convinced she won the Burger Bash.
7) In our four-year history of burger bashes, we’ve never had a single regret about anything we put into our faces. That is, until this year. Late in the night – many, many beers deep – we stumbled upon the Beast Burger booth. Beast Burger. They should be sued for false advertising. The second we bit into Beyond Meat’s 100% plant protein patty, we knew something was seriously wrong. That moment still haunts our dreams.
8) For the Crew, we hit a wall at 13 burgers. Again. Equaling last year’s consumption total, we failed to reach our pre-Bash goal of 20 and rightfully deserve the shame that entails. We did, however, enjoy copious amounts of beer. Maybe less booze, more burgers next year? OK, since that’ll never happen, maybe we’ll just make more room by getting fatter during the Bash offseason.
9) South Beach in February is better than just about anywhere else.
* Booze, of course, being the fourth.
** Delicatessen, Toro NYC, Shake Shack, Lure Fishbar, Pincho Factory (in no particular order)