New York City just got a whole lot juicier. On Wednesday August 21st, Time Out New York in conjunction with Amstel Light hosted a Battle of the Burger competition. Guests got to sample 20 of Gotham’s most fabulous burgers from restaurants around the City. Burgers were selected from Time Out New York's Readers' Choice, critics' picks and new and noteworthy contenders. The event took place at the Hudson Hotel’s beautiful new beer garden Hudson Common. Guests got to meet celebrity chef, Richard Blais as they tasted their way through dozens of burgers and quenched their thirst with complimentary Amstel Light, the official beer of the burger.
Contenders included restaurants Minetta Tavern, Dram Shop, PJ Clarke’s, Five Guys Burgers and Fries and Blue Collar amongst others. Runner-ups were Jeppney’s Chori Burger and Hudson Common’s Common Burger. Richard Blais announced the grand prize winner, Maialino’s Late Night Burger, made from Pat LaFrieda beef with house made pancetta and gorgonzola on a rosemary brioche bun. This burger is simply to die for. Check out our interview with the celebrity chef himself, Richard Blais:
Name of Restaurant: Maialino
Name of Burger: Maialino Late Night Burger
Ingredients of Burger: Pat Lafrieda Beef with House Made Pancetta, Gorgonzola, Rosemary Brioche Bun
Runner ups (in order):
Name of Restaurant: Jeepney
Name of Burger: Chori Burger
Ingredients of Burger: Angus Beef n Sweet Cured Pork Longanisa With Banana Ketchup, Atchara (Pickled Carrots, Cucumber, and Jicama)
Name of Restaurant: Hudson Common
Name of Burger: Common Burger
Ingredients of Burger: Brioche Bun, Custom Ground Beef Blend, Common Sauce, Velveeta, Cheese Pickles
Q: How do you like your burger cooked?
I have to be honest that I love burgers so much. I like them in all different ways and all different sorts of cooking techniques. I would say as far as I like it temperature-wise, the older I get, the more cooked I like it which I think young chefs...have this bravado about them and they’re like “rare, mid rare,” that’s how chefs eat them which I think that’s something we just say. Medium technically means perfect in French, “à point” means perfect, that’s what medium should be but medium, mid-well. I actually like a burger cooked a little bit more than probably most chefs would admit to, even if they did, because there’s that weird bravado about it. But I go back and forth. I like thin patties; I like a big juicy steak patty as well. I like charcoal grilled, but I don’t mind it in a pan being based with some butter, herbs and garlic so I kind of just love burgers. And then I run 5 miles and then I feel guilty about loving burgers.
Q: What’s the most exotic burger you ever tasted?
A lot of restaurants and myself included have imported Japanese beef, grade 5 Wagyu beef. Which is like Japanese beef that they like massage and it’s really expensive beef. I’ve had those before. This cow is pampered and this is like really expensive stuff. You got to ship it from Japan. A $75 or $100 burger, I’ve had them, I’ve cooked them. I don’t know if that’s necessary the best, but it's good meat makes a good burger. It’s certainly one strategy for making something great. So that’s exotic. But I have a philosophy that as long as you can grind it and put it on a bun, it’s a burger. Exotic could mean other meats. A lot of people think of burgers as beef, maybe turkey burgers, but when it’s lamb or ground duck or ostrich that’s another form of exotica, I guess.
Q: Bison or beef, which is better?
I don’t discriminate in which types of meats I like in my burger. You know bison has its advantages; it’s leaner meat. It’s got a little gamey flavor. I like a good bison burger. Bison you got to be careful you don’t overcook because it’s so lean. I do like bison, would I exalt it as the king of kings? Maybe not, it depends on what you’re into that day.
Q: Why do you think beer and burgers is a great combo?
Well specifically, Amstel Light approached me, they were like “hey do you want to do this?” And Amstel Light is the official trademark, official beer of the burger. You hear that and that’s great marketing, but what does it really mean? But as I got deeper into the project and sort of put on my chef’s hat and I thought about what it means to have a great beer paired with a burger. I feel that Amstel Light’s the best beer for a burger for a few reasons, mainly because it’s full bodied enough, it has enough flavor that it can stand up to charcoaled grilling, a lot of these condiments that these chefs are using out here today, but it’s also light in an effervescent way and easy to drink but not watered down. You can still have a bite of a burger and take a sip of beer, have a bite of a burger, take a sip of beer, something heavier is going to sit in your stomach; it’s going to take over your palate. As an avid runner and someone who’s like running marathons now, to me, I kind of appreciate the low calorie aspect of it as well. So I think it is the official beer of the burger.
Q: What is your favorite burger to make?
You know, I make so many different ones; it’s kind of hard to say. I think at the moment I’m into this Welsh rarebit burger. Welsh rarebit is a traditional Welsh dish. It’s got melted cheese and beer and Worcestershire and hot sauce. It’s basically a spreadable savory cheese sauce that you usually put on toast. It’s like a soft cheese sauce that I’ve been pairing with the burger and it’s excellent. It works obliviously, you drink beer with the burger and now the beer is in the recipe. It’s got a lot of guts to it. It’s got a masculine gutsy flavor to it. That’s what I’m into at the moment, but tomorrow it could be something else to be quite honest. Another burger that we’re actually doing as far as being really healthy is one that is actually half mushrooms. So it’s mushrooms that we cook that we grind up and then we add it to a beef blend. You’d never know that there are mushrooms in it. So it’s like 60 percent mushrooms and 40 percent beef and the texture is just amazing, but it’s also obviously a lot less fat. It’s not like the veggie burger, where it’s a bean burger and pastie. Because there’s some beef in there, it has this texture and then we grind the mushrooms, which is the key. A lot of veggie burgers, they just put them in a blender, it’s pastie and not a good texture.
Q: Do you have any cool projects coming up?
I do, I have lots of exciting projects. I just signed on to host a new TV show that should be coming out pretty soon. We’re developing ideas for my second book, that’s in the works and we have new restaurant opportunities happening as well.
With reporting by Yanique Bourjolly