Last year, celebrity chef Michael Symon shocked the throngs of meat lovers at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival's Burger Bash by winning the coveted People's Choice award three years in a row.
Michael Symon and the Burger Bash: For the love of meat.
Symon's "Porky Burger," a pigfest made from pork and bacon, crowned
with a hunk of pulled pork, and served with a side of pork cracklins, combined with the chef's megawatt smile, proved a winning combination as thousands of hungry partygoers surrendered their voting token to the television cohost, restaurateur, and all-around genuine nice guy.
This year, Symon's back, and he's aiming to turn his three-peat into a lucky foursome. We spoke with the affable chef to talk burgers, The Chew, and all things meaty.
New Times: Michael, you're back at Burger Bash for a fourth win. And we've gotta ask, why don't you just retire victorious?
Michael Symon: I feel like at this point if I don't do it, then all my friends will give me
grief because they won't get a chance to whoop me. Of course, if I win I'll get
grief for winning. I'll get grief either way, so I figure I might as well
do it one more year.
Each year, your burger's had a theme. What's this year's burger?
We're going to do a burger inspired by French onion soup. It's going
to start with red wine and caramelized onions with bacon. Then comes the burger, then aGruyère-and-horseradish fondue. We'll top it with crispy onions.
This is what we always love to do with our burgers at my B Spot restaurants. We take classic
burgers and combine them with things people like. My Fat Doug burger is based on a
New York pastrami sandwich; then last year, we did a burger based on a
pulled-pork sandwich. That was a porkapalooza. This year, we're taking another classic, French
onion soup, and we're going to jazz it up a bit.
I think it's the tastiest burger we've ever done.
Do you create these specially for the Burger Bash?
Our first year at Burger Bash, we served the first signature burger at B Spot. The others we
did were originals, and they went on the B Spot menu after we won.
I don't mean to jinx you, but would you put a burger on the menu even if it
Even if it doesn't win, it will still go on the menu because this is the best one
A lot of people want to know your secret to winning Burger Bash. Do you slip people $20 bills in exchange for their token?
We try to give them the best burger, and we're nice to the people in line.
I've seen people hugging you, kissing you. What's that like?
It gets a little crazy. It's fun, though. It's better than having people
throw stuff at you or having nobody in your line.
Some of the other chefs put on a real show. Guy Fieri was at the top of his station. Spike Mendelsohn had girls dressed in bikinis,
We don't do that. We just try to give them a good burger and be friendly.
You're also hosting the carnivorous dinner with Peter Vauthy
from Red the Steakhouse in Miami Beach. Can you tell us about that?
Peter's a sweet guy and a wonderful chef. I've known Peter and his
business partner for 30 years now from Cleveland. I go way back with those guys. I'm going to do a couple of courses and Peter's going to do a couple
of courses. A few dishes we're doing will be a cavatelli with lamb Bolognese and fresh
mint, and slow smoked short ribs over some creamy polenta with a salad of
shaved fennel, oranges, and watercress.
The Chew became a breakout success. What's that like?
It's great. Mario and I have known each other 15 years. We have fun. We make each other breakfast every day. We've
all gotten to be friends and we do a lot outside of the studio together. We actually found
out we had the highest rated week since we started the show, so it's
been an overwhelming success.There had never been a cooking talk show on
network television and we took the place of a show that had been on for 41 years. It was a challenge,
but it's been even more successful than we ever thought. I can't even put into words how much I enjoy it.
What are you looking forward to the most at SoBeWFF this year and where in south Florida do you like to go when you have a free moment?
Day one I'll make sure I'm at
eat my weight in those claws. The festival gets us out of the cold. It comes
at that time of the year when I am so sick of snow. Look, If it were the
Cleveland Wine and Food Festival
It would be a tough draw to get all those chefs together in February.
If you could create your own party at next year's festival, what would you do?
I would do sausages. The world's greatest hot dog and sausage sandwiches.
You want to do a sausage fest in Miami Beach?
I wouldn't word it that way, but yes. It would be themed around sausage
and beer, because there's nothing better. The hamburger is an American classic and you can eat it on the go The hot
dog or sausage is the same exact way. You can grab it, and walk and drink while eating you customized hot dog.
Michael Symon is co-hosting Saturday evening's sold-out
Carnivorous Dinner at Red the Steakhouse on Saturday, February 23, at 7
p.m. with Red's chef/partner Peter Vauthy, in addition to participating
in the Burger Bash on Friday, February 22, at 7:30 p.m. (also sold out).
Symon will also participate in Sunday's Grand Tasting Village
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