Several hundred people gathered on open-air rooftop of Pier 92 on Friday, October 18 to take on 27 varieties of the burger at NYC Wine & Food Festival’s Blue Moon Burger Bash presented by Pat LaFrieda Meats hosted by Rachael Ray.
By unofficial, unscientific survey, Burger & Barrel seemed to be the crowd pleaser with its Bash Burger topped with caramelized onion, bacon jam, shaved pickles, American cheese and secret sauce and crispy fingerling potatoes on the side.
However, for People’s Choice award Burger & Barrel’s three-time winner, Josh Capon, tied with Guy Fieri’s 22 ingredient Mac n’ Cheese burger that consisted of a crispy applewood-smoked bacon, creamy four-cheese mac and cheese, all-natural ground beef, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, super-melty cheese, garlic butter on a toasted brioche.
The official judges for the event were Adam Richman, Andrew Zimmern, Geoffrey Zakarian, and Joe Bastianich, They offered the Judges Choice award to Paul Denamiel of Le Rivage, who during lags in burger delivery by his team offered kisses in lieu of burgers – surely the judges went on burger flavor alone. Denamiel took a twist on the traditional with a French Onion Soup burger with a Pat LaFrieda blend burger topped with stewed onions, béchamel and emmental cheeses served on a toasted Thomas English muffin with potato chips dipped in Jacques Torres chocolate.
Some of the more unusual offerings include ilili’s The ilili Shawarma Burger which was a beef patty, special sauce, red onion, sumac, Alepp pepper on a cardamom sesame bun; Distilled with a burger speared with a tater tot and topped with American cheese, pobalno relish and crispy fried onions; and Old Homestead Steakhouse at Borgata’s Kool-Aid pickles.
Non-burger fare was also officered such as Red Robin with their Bottomless Steak Fries and Dipping Sauces. The dipping sauces were presented by Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management students who were finalists of Red Robin’s Savory Scholar Gourmet Dipping Sauce Contest.
The three finalists’ recipes were: Dalton Draper’s Bloody Mary Sauce which consists of Heinz 57 Sauce, Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce, lemon, celery salt, black pepper, parsley, horseradish and garlic powder; Ariel Miller’s Pepper Dulce Dippin’ Sauce which is comprised of Heinz Jalapeño Ketchup, honey BBQ sauce, diced onion, sea salt and nutmeg; and Tirza Diaz De Villegas’ Tirza’s Tangy Cilantro & Garlic Sauce which includes Heinz® Mayonnaise, garlic, onion, lemon, cilantro and Greek yogurt.
Diaz De Villegas’ sauce was selected as the winner by event attendees food and lifestyle expert and author Katie Lee, earning the student a $5,000 scholarship and the chance to have her sauce served in Red Robin restaurants nationwide next year.
When ready for dessert, the burger crowd had options that included pie from Brooklyn’s Four & Twenty Blackbirds and Betty Crocker’s delicious Betty’s Blue Moon Cupcakes made of Blue Moon Belgian White Wheat Ale and orange peel with hints of coriander and ginger.
For those needing a break from burgers there was plenty to do with a live band, Ping-Pong tables and a Blue Moon mural of the city skyline open to anyone willing could help paint. Also offered was a selection of wines by Sutter Home, beer from Blue Moon Brewing Company and Voss water.
Everyone also had a change to mingle with his or her favorite celebrity judge, albeit over the picket fence corral of the Pat LaFrieda judging area. If you were willing to wait most of them chatted and a took pictures with everyone that came their way. If you waited long enough, you could even catch Adam Richman and Gayle King taking a selfie together.