The votes are in, folks, and for the second year in a row, Wilton Manors' Georgie's Alibi claimed victory in the Riverwalk Trust Burger Battle, held Friday on Las Olas Boulevard.
For Georgie's, winning this competition two years in a row proves it can't be a fluke. This burger, a deceptively simple bacon cheeseburger on a soft egg bun, is the real deal -- or at least so say the judges at the Burger Battle along with the hundreds of happy customers who belly up to Georgie's to order one each week.
So what's the secret behind these award-winning burgers? We asked General Manager Vincent Frato, and here's what he had to say.
New Times: First of all, how does it feel to be named Fort Lauderdale's best burger two years in a row?
Frato: We're definitely very grateful to have had the opportunity to be in the battle and for the opportunity to win again. The second one is really gratifying. It's great to get recognized for all the work we do day in and day out.
You say day in and day out -- you actually serve this burger in your restaurant, don't you?
A lot of restaurants concoct specialty burgers specifically for the competition. You weren't tempted to go down that route?
Well, we actually changed our concept burger less than 24 hours before the competition. The burger itself was the same, but we changed the toppings and were planning on making two patties to do a double patty. But later that day, we started to think about execution. Like, can we do this and not screw it up for the guests in the restaurant? So we said, let's go back to basics and pulled it back to the original patty setup the way we do it in-house.
So now that you've one twice, can you just get it over with and tell everyone what the secret to an award-winning burger is?
Ah, no! [laughs] You know what? It's all about the burger itself. There is a secret in creating a good burger that's palatable to the masses, and that's balance. That includes everything from the chemistry of the burger and the fat content to the ratio of meat to bread. If you don't have that foundation, then it just won't turn out right.
What do you mean by chemistry?
For instance, our meat is farm-raised in Colorado and specially blended to our specifications. We specify the amount of fat we want and the texture of the grind, which all affects how it cooks. And depending upon how you cook it, you may want more or less fat. In the restaurant, we use a grill, but doing the volume of sliders we did at the burger battle, we used a flattop, which means you can use less oil since the fat stays with the burger rather than dripping down through the grates.
Did you get a chance to taste the other burgers at the competition?
Unfortunately, I did not get out of the tent this year. One of the burgers you have to taste no matter what is the one that won last year, so there was a huge line. We had at least 75 people or more in line all night. We pumped out about 800-plus sliders and as many Jack Daniel's vanilla milk shakes.
What was your inspiration for that milk shake?
Our inspiration was that a hamburger and a milk shake is the American way, and people have forgotten about that. McDonald's used to be all about the burger and the shake, and that's what made it so popular.
How did you come up with the recipe?
Jack Daniel's gave us their honey wheat bourbon to use, and so we thought "Why not in a milk shake?" And what better way to top it than chocolate-covered bacon? We didn't even use ice cream. We used homemade creme anglais, ice, and a little bit of Kahlua.
Any chance you'll put that on the menu?
No, we don't have the facilities to do a milk shake! But yeah, we wanted explosive flavor in a tiny cup, so it was pretty rich with the cream. We may have to change the formula if we ever decide to do it in the restaurant.
What's the game plan for next year?
I don't really know. I don't know if we'll get invited back [laughs]. But our chef is so talented, he can do anything from down-home poor boys to upscale food and wine pairings. I call him the culinary chameleon. So we'll have to see.
Any last thoughts?
We're just so happy that to win it again. It showed that our way of thinking and going about how to make this burger was correct. It's like, yeah, we are crazy!
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