“Burger Bash is where it’s at,” Michael Symon said as we started our interview. It’s arguably the most sought after-ticket at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, drawing in crowds by the hundreds. Food writers, bloggers and burger enthusiasts travel from far and wide to watch their favorite chefs vie for the title of Best Burger. (And eat them, of course.)
Last year, event sponsors Allen Brothers provided each of the 26 vendors with meat; this year, they increased that number to 32 — that’s right, 32 burgers (see the full list here).
There are three awards to be had for the night: People’s Choice, Judges’ Favorite and the Heinz Best-Dressed Burger Award. While they are all coveted, there is one in particular that each chef has their eye on: The People’s Choice — the award where the guests get to choose their favorite. How do they vote? As you enter the tent, everyone receives one token. Next to each of the chefs’ booths is a box. Once you pick a favorite burger, you drop your token into the box.
As the event got started, I couldn’t help but see the friendly rivalry brewing up between Michael Symon and Bobby Flay. Michael is the reigning champion of the People’s Choice Award not one, but two years in a row. Bobby simply had enough. “Michael Symon needs to pack his griddle and go back to Cleveland, or New York — wherever he lives now,” Bobby exclaimed.
“It’s fun pressure; every year you look around and you see the greatest chefs in the world all making a hamburger,” Michael added.
In the end, Michael took home the People’s Choice Award with his Porky Burger: A pork and bacon burger topped with pulled pork and slaw. He wasn’t the only Food Network star to leave with an award. Guy Fieri was awarded the Heinz Best-Dressed Burger for his Straight‐Up With a Pig Patty: A ground chuck and bacon patty with lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle with a liberal slathering of donkey sauce (click on the video above to find out what donkey sauce is).
So what’s the secret to Michael’s success? He gave his culinary production line at Burger Bash all the credit — a true team effort.