The biggest event of the New York Wine and Food Fest is hands down the great Burger Bash. To get everyone appropriately pumped, we'll be interviewing the top contenders about their burgers, giving the odds on who we think will prevail, and oh, we'll be giving away two tickets. Stay tuned for your chance to go.
Burger Maker: Art Smith, Table Fifty-Two
Is this your first Burger Bash? It's my second. Did you take anything away from last year's competition? That people really love to eat. This is a party where people are serious about eating burgers. They don't want a dainty bite, they want a big mouthful. We tried to keep it elegant last year, but honey, they just want a burger.
What's your strategy? My motto is always, 'Have biscuits will travel,' but this time it's 'Have hoe cakes.' Instead of a bun my burger will have hoe cakes. They're a traditional corn cake from my childhood, made originally by African slaves by putting ground corn on the back of a hoe and cooking it over the fire...Last year we had biscuits but this year it's hoe cakes...they'll be thin but sturdy.
I have this pet peeve that people use the nastiest factory made bread. You go to all this work to make this incredible burger and then put it on this bread that's just awful. People love things that are made by hand. When the hand is removed from the process it ruins it.
And what about the burger itself? What's the make up? Well, I have the best butcher in the world, so I'm not worried. Todd from Allen Brothers. He's worked very hard to make sure it has the right about of fat.
Any seasonings? Any toppings? Just coming from judging the Build a Better Burger competition I've just eaten all kinds of burgers stuffed with all kinds of things. And one of the best burgers was the simplest. I'm doing a simple burger with the hoe cake. If and if you use high quality beef, you don't have to put in all that stuff. I might put some salt and pepper, not inside but on the outside. You want the beef to be beautiful and have that rosy color. If you add anything it changes the color. I don't want it to look like meatloaf. And mini burgers are out. People don't want cute food. People want delicious.
How about accompaniments? I'm making a wonderful cabbage slaw with pears and tomatoes. And I'm making wonderful fries called Chesapeake Bay fries. We make our own seasoning, like old bay. Wonderful spicy fries. I love Asian cuisine, so I want the hot sour salty sweet.
Who are you worried about in the competition? Which is the burger to beat? Those are all my friends and we're there for a great cause and could care less about the competition.
Best burger in New York: A really great burger that I remember is from that place inside the Parker Meridien Hotel. Burger Joint. They're delicious. Back in that little space they have such good burgers. They're like the Billy Goats of New York. And Jean-Georges knows how to do a good burger.
And in Chicago? In Chicago, I love Gibsons.
· NYC Wine & Food 08: Previewing Emile Castillo's Burger Joint Burger [~E~]
· NYC Wine & Food 08: Previewing Adam Perry Lang's New Mexico Slider [~E~]
· BURGER BASH Presented by Blue Moon, Hosted by Rachael Ray [NYWFF]For more stories from Eater, go to eater.com.