Friday, March 13, 2009
I’m just coming down from the ridiculous,incredible, amazing high of South Beach Food and Wine Festival, and I’m back on my feet to tell you all about it.
In a nutshell: I kicked Bobby Flays...you know what. Haha, just kidding.
Well, actually, I’m not kidding at all, but I guess I should be a little more diplomatic about it, I kicked 23 chefs out of running for best burger!
The main reason I decided to go down to Miami was to compete in Rachael Ray’s Burger Bash. I know it sounds corny, but the event is a big deal in the food world and so I thought, let's have some fun and see what it's all about. Former winners include Chef Katie Lee Joel, as well as my pal Chef Michael Schlow of Boston. That said, I honestly went for fun, not for victory. I hoped to win, of course, but come on, not only was I the youngest chef there, but it was my first time on the playground, ya know?
So I dragged my culinary partner in crime, Chef Michael Colletti, as well as my friend from NYC Chef Sean Scotese, along with a few other members of the Spike posse down to South Beach for a weekend of Burger flippin’ and party hopping.
Burger Bash was the first event of the trip - and let me tell you, what happened that night, set us off for a wild ride. A few months prior, I had decided we would serve Colletti’s Smokehouse Burger (Vidalia onion rings, chipotle bbq sauce, cheddar cheese and my famous burger blend) with a Toasted Marshmallow Shake on the side.
While the rest of Miami tanned and tequilla’ed, the boyz and I spent the entire day in the kitchen prepping like maniacs. That’s where I started getting this crazy feeling we could actually win something, there's 4 awards: Heinz Best Dressed Award, Judges Favorite, People's Choice and Best Potato.
As sun began to set, we set up our booth, surrounded by serious food stands like Morimoto, Michael Psakalis and the ubiquitous Bobby Flay, and before I knew it, Burger Bash had begun. Within seconds, tons of foodies, fans, critics and competitors were downing my food and begging for more.
The nonstop action is one big blur. We had two girls in fedora's handing out food and buttons that said "Vote Spike". I was covered in grease, marshmallows, business cards and beer, moving so fast I barely processed when Rachael Ray French-kissed me for making such a brilliant burger. Yes, that’s a fact, there are pictures. Haha!
Before I knew it, there she was again, but this time on stage. It was time to announce the winner. Wow, wouldn’t that be cool...I thought.
Well, be careful what you wish for because suddenly I heard: SPIKE MENDELSOHN. What??? WAIT, WHAT??? What had I won? Something about "Heinz" and "Best Dressed" I
jumped on stage, psyched that I had won something, at least.
But then, before I could blink, it was announced that I won something else!!!Judges Choice for Best Burger was mine too!!! And just when things couldn’t get better, Rachael Ray (you can't just call her Rachael) awarded me with the best honor of all- PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD FOR BEST BURGER.
Hundreds of people had voted and they chose my food as their absolute favorite. OMG. I was floored. So floored that when she declared me the King of Burger Bash, I basically froze on stage! Yes me, Spike, speechless. Hahah! It was so cool, guys. I wish everyone I’ve ever known could have been there.
We all accepted the prizes and accolades and I gave a huge THANKS to my crew, everyone in a state of disbelief. Not only had I won the respect of my peers, but also a trip to Amsterdam (!!) amongst other extravagant prizes.
I felt so proud of Good Stuff Eatery, I’ll never forget it. After all the screaming and pictures and press, we somehow found our way to a big bottle of Champagne on the rooftop of Rachael Ray’s penthouse suite. And the rest is...off the record!
Burger Bash King,