Two yearling restaurants - one not yet open for business - won the 2014 Philly Burger Brawl, held amid blinding sunshine outside Xfinity Live in South Philadelphia on Sunday, June 8.
The much-lauded lamb burger from Avance - served at the bar at Justin Bogle's progressive-American restaurant at 1523 Walnut St. - was the judges' choice from the field of about 50 restaurants and chefs. Twisted Tail was second and Parc was third.
Blue Duck Sandwich Co. - which is now five to seven weeks from opening at 2859 Holme Ave. in Northeast Philadelphia - was the People's Choice winner. Kris Serviss and Joe Callahan opted for a blend of ground pork roll and chuck and topped their burger with fried quail egg, Cooper American and sriracha mayo. It was served on a potato roll. Serviss said the burger would be on Blue Duck's menu. The People's Choice runner-up was Prime Stache, followed by last year's winner, Fat Jack's.
Lines for water ice, beer, and food were long at the fourth annual Burger Brawl, in its debut at Xfinity Live. Sponsors and the 2,500 people helped raise a stunning $140,000 for Philadelphia schools, said creator/organizer Rob Wasserman, an owner of Rouge and 500 Degrees. (His restaurants provided burgers but did not compete.)
Marc Summers emceed. Judges included WMMR's Steve Morrison and Matt Cord, Phillies alum Gary "Sarge" Matthews, Fox29's Mike Jerrick, soccer star Heather Mitts, VisitPhilly's James Zale, Philadelphia Magazine's Ashley Primis, and me.
Competitors ran the table of toppings, going from simple (Shake Shack) to outlandish (the Hawaiian burgers offered by the grass-skirted staff of Billy Burger & Bakery of West Chester).
Chef George Sabatino built his entry entirely from scratch - a beef burger with shaved raw mushrooms, red onion chili relish, gribiche aioli, and crumbled beef tendon; his house-made bun used a starter of malt barley syrup, durum and semolina flour. Sabatino is a few months from opening Aldine in Rittenhouse but insists he will not offer a burger there.
Bistrot La Minette's Peter Woolsey offered an incredible burger built on house-made brioche from his father-in-law's recipe. It contained beef, delice de Bourgogne cheese smear, cornichons, onion and bacon marmalade, red-wine reduction and corn shoots. It will be on the menu of La Peg, a future brasserie he is creating with FringeArts.