The biggest event of the New York Wine and Food Fest is hands down the great Burger Bash. To get everyone appropriately pumped, we've been interviewing the top contenders, and tomorrow, we'll be giving away two tickets. Stay tuned for your chance to go.
"Chef Jeff" Schwarz, left, and Mo Koyfman at a practice session last weekend.
Burger Makers: Here we need to do a bit of an intro. Over the summer Eater threw an epic Burger Bloodbath, in which multiple teams of two (including Joey Campanaro and Steve Hanson) put forth their best burgers to be judged by the esteemed Kate Krader, Peter Meehan, and Josh Cutlets Ozersky. The winners of the Bloodbath won a berth in the NYC Burger Bash. Thus, Eater's dog in this hunt: Jeff Schwarz, a close personal friend of a top NY food critic who's name is not Bruni, restaurant consultant, and the original "Chef Jeff;" and Mo Koyfman.
What's your strategy? Jeff: Hi. Thanks for taking the time out to interview us because in truth this interview is 1/3 of our strategy. Without a restaurant to reference or any brand identity, the obstacle of standing out in a burger competition with famous chefs judged by a popular vote is, well, dicey. We need the press. We need to become famous. We have two days.
As for the burger, we worked hard all summer perfecting the quintessential beach burger, which won at the Eater competition (beating worthy and notable competitors such as Joey Campanaro from the Little Owl and The Full Hanson), so we are confident we have a stand out burger. But when you distill down our strategy as it relates to the burger itself or as we like to refer to it: the strategy within the strategy, the answer begins and ends with our pickle, or more accurately, Jane's Pickle, available only at Vicki's, a farmstand on Route 27 in Amagansett. We believe it's a game changer.
Finally, as more than a few ladies in the crowd know, Mo is quite charming. So in summation, our formula is Buzz + Jane's pickle + Mo's gift for working the crowd = Victory!
How do you feel going up against so many big name chefs? Jeff: Terrified. Mo: Bigger name than Momo?
As the underdog team, what do you think you may bring to the table that the big guns won't? Jeff: Did I mention Mo? Mo: We won't be bringing a restaurant style hamburger to the competition. No brioche bun here. Jeff and I spent all summer working out what we think is the burger everyone wants when they go to a backyard BBQ. It's a little junky, but just-right-junky.
What will you be serving? (any accompaniments?) The Jeff and Mo burger is a classic cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, and the aforementioned, compulsively edible pickles. On the side, prepare to be blown away by our, get this, melange of caramelized onions and bacon.
Presentation? Jeff: Neither of us have made upwards of 200 burgers in less than two hours so let's just hope our presentation is presentable.
And what is the make up of your burger? Mo: We've been working with my guy Mark Pastore at Pat La Frieda Meats in coming up with a winning flavor profile. We decided on a 75/25 mix using natural black angus brisket, flat-iron, and shoulder clod.
What makes a perfect burger? Mo: The burger has to be perfect, and perfectly calibrated, from the bun on in. The patty has to be the right meat mixture, seasoned well and weigh no more than six ounces. There should be tomatoes and lettuce to provide texture and contrast in temperatures. The cheese should be thinly sliced so it can melt. Of course integrity is key. No fucking mayo either. Jeff: If the meat isn't rested, I'm not interested.
Who are you worried about in the competition? Which is the burger to beat? Jeff: We are most worried about the burgers that have inspired us (read: ripped off) such as Shake Shack and The Burger Joint. For us to win, we have to beat them at their own game. Not an insurmountable problem but definitely a concern. Mo: I got my eye on Colicchio. Dude's got a lot of momentum going into the competition.
Favorite New York Burger: Jeff: Shagwong Burger, Montauk (make sure to get the fried onions on the burger); but if you're asking five boroughs, competitors excluded, the burger at Houston's is tight. Mo: Capon at Lure Fishbar cooks a mean burger. Wait, is this the part where I get to say I'm a VC? Read my twitter!
· NYC Wine & Food 08: Previewing Randy Garutti's Shack Burger [~E~]
· BURGER BASH Presented by Blue Moon, Hosted by Rachael Ray [NYWFF]