We hear the chefs at Salt7 in Delray Beach have been working for months on a new burger recipe, one they hope will make them two-time champs for the title of Best Grill Master at this year's Boca Burger Battle.
Last year, the restaurant took the top prize with its Motley burger, and people loved the brisket and short rib blend topped with Mexican slaw, Nueske's bacon, and Sambal Oeleck chili yuzu sauce so much, the team had no choice but to put it on the menu full-time.
On July 11, Salt7 will be grilling it up again as food enthusiasts from across the tricounty flock to Boca Raton to witness the judge’s pick for the Best Grill Master and Best Alternative Grill Master at the fourth-annual Boca Burger Battle at Sanborn Square Park.
The Boca Burger Battle has come a long way in the past few years. Started as a way to celebrate summer in South Florida, says event founder Russell Spadacinni, it has evolved into a food event geared specifically towards attracting the area's full-time residents and help promote local restaurants during the off-season slump.
This year, the competition will be bigger than ever before, according to Spadacinni. The battle will expand its coverage area within the park, and will be closing a portion of Federal Highway from Palmetto Park Road to NE Second Street, allowing for a better flow of traffic than in years past, said Spadacinni.
"And we've got quite a turnout with plenty of variety this time around," says Spadacinni. "Whether you're a vegan, a vegetarian, or a meat lover, there's guaranteed to be a burger for you at this event."
For the competition, a panel of judges will make their selections for the top three burgers based on several factors, including ingredients, smell, taste, presentation, and overall creativity. Event-goers can also cast votes, each given a wooden chip to determine three people's choice winners.
If you're feeling up to a challenge of your own, try making it through all 19 contenders — the event is all-you-can-eat. And, because it's organized by the same production company that hosts the Boca Raton Wine & Food Festival, the Deerfield Beach Wine & Food Festival, and the Galt Mile Wine & Food Festival, you can wash it all down at the beer and wine tent, or dance off the extra pounds to some live music provided by two local bands
The official list of 2015 burger battle contenders include: Salt 7, Bite Gastrotruck, Tucker Duke’s Lunchbox, Green Spot Kitchen, Morton’s Steak House, Shake Shack, 4th Generation Organic Market, Burger Craze, McCoy’s Restaurant, M.E.A.T. Eatery & Taproom, Super Dave’s On The Go, 109 Burger Joint, Poutine Dog Café, Zinburger Wine & Burger Bar, The New Vegan, Aladdin’s Eatery, BRIO Tuscan Grille, Legends Tavern and Grille, Cabo Flats, and Dawgs and Wiches.
Last year, Deerfield Beach’s Tucker Duke’s Lunchbox won the people's choice first place for "Best Boca Burger," while Delray Beach’s Salt7 took the top prize with the judge's call as "Best Grill Master." Both are back this year to see if they can reclaim the titles.
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"Everyone loves a competition, and for the chefs this is really all about putting their best food forward," said Spadacinni. "If you're looking to go to an event to get the best burger of your life, you'll want to go to the Boca Burger Battle."
General admission tickets are $50 per person. VIP tickets are $75 per person, and include one hour early entry and unlimited food and drink. A portion of proceeds benefit PropelYourFuture.org, a local nonprofit based in Boca Raton that helps to educate at-risk youth.
The Boca Burger Battle will take place on July 11 from 7 to 10 p.m. at Sanborn Square Park in Boca Raton. Call 561-338-7594, or visit BocaBurgerBattle.com.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.