We’re Going Going, Back Back, to SoBe SoBe
In just four days, the Crew will once again be all up in the mix on the South Beach shore, frolicking in the sand while tossing burger after burger down our well-greased gullets. Yup, kids, the burger party of all burger parties is here and after a year hiatus, we’re back in there like beefy-ass swimwear.
The crown jewel of the SoBe Wine and Food Fest (at least in our burger-lovin’ eyes), the 2014 SoBe Burger Bash takes places this Friday, February 20, on the beachfront of the fancy-ass Ritz Carlton where more than 30 burger slingers are pulling out all the stops in an effort to take home the coveted People’s Choice award. The Bash (government name: Amstel Light Burger Bash presented by Pat LaFrieda Meats hosted by Rachael Ray) is heavy on the Florida and New York participants –there’s more than 10 from each locale in the lineup this year– along with a sprinkling of several other joints. A couple of Washington-area burgers make the cut, though only one is a District original.
D.C.’s lone representative on the ticket this year is Chef Spike Mendelsohn who is aiming to reclaim his SoBe burger crown. In 2009, the Good Stuff Eatery chief swept the hardware in his inaugural Bash appearance, winning the People’s Choice and Judge’s Award with the Colletti’s Smokehouse.
“I can’t wait for the Burger Bash,” Spike told Burger Days, “I’m taking back my title for sure.” While he wouldn’t disclose the makeup for this year’s entry, he did tell us his burger and side dish are “a throwback.” We’re not sure if that means he’s returning to the award-winning Smokehouse, but we wouldn’t be too surprised if the bacon-BBQ-sauce-and-onion-ring-topped burger makes an appearance in Miami once again. (On a side note, Spike is hosting a celebrity beach volleyball tournament benefiting the Armed Forces Foundation featuring a variety of chefs and food personalities including Andrew Zimmern, Michael Symon, Josh Capon among others, along with a bevy of lovely ladies from the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue the day before the Bash. We can only hope it’s not too much of a distraction and our boy keeps his eyes on Friday’s greasy prize.)
And while not a District native, with three locations (and soon to be two more) in the area, we consider Shake Shack to be one of “ours” and we’re excited as all hell for the opportunity to toss their burgers back at the Bash again. In 2012, we got our first taste of the brand new, and now Shack staple, the SmokeShack when they brought it to South Beach and, this Friday, they’re busting out another new creation, the BurgerMeister. Shake Shack Culinary Director Mark Rosati tells Burger Days it’s a cheeseburger topped with crispy, beer-marinated shallots and ShackSauce inspired from their similarly-named wiener on a bun, the DogMeister. Yup, count us in.
One big, notable absence from the SoBe Burger Bash this year is Bobby Flay who, after taking home the top honors last year, won’t be defending his title in 2014. We’re not sure the reason behind Flay’s decision to bow out, but with his missing star power from the popularity contest that is the People’s Choice, we think the odds of three-time champ Michael Symon taking home a fourth crown are pretty high.
With 30+ burgers on the menu, it’s mighty tough to run the Burger Bash gamut. As with our Burger Day adventures, pacing is key. Eat too fast and you’ll hit the beefy wall early and be boned for the rest of the night. Eat too slowly and you’ll find yourself with an unfinished to-do list at the end of the Bash. It’s a science when it comes to maximizing intake at events like these and, fortunately, we’ve been training, researching and practicing to come up with the perfect burger-binging formula. While we won’t reveal that trade secret, we’re happy to share the burgers we’ll have in our crosshairs Friday.
Naturally Good Stuff and Shake Shack make the cut, along with Symon’s front-runner B Spot Burgers (also one of Spike’s top picks), 5 Napkin Burger, Pork Slope, El Rey de las Fritas, Tongue & Cheek, Fat Sal’s, Holeman & Finch (Rosati’s most-anticipated burger) and our novelty-loving asses can’t pass up a chance to get the NYC cult-hit ramen burger. But that’s just 10 out of 30, and while that’s a fine batting average in the Show, it’s the equivalent of the Mendoza Line in the Burger Days league. The goal is no less than .500 at the Bash– arteries and waistlines be damned.
With four days to go, we still have plenty to do to get ourselves prepared. But by Friday, you can bet your asses we’ll be burger-lovin’ boy scouts.