The smell of grilled burgers, bacon and all the fixins' lingered in the air behind the Ritz-Carlton on South Beach during one of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival's signature events—Heineken Burger Bash presented by Schweid & Sons® hosted by Bobby Flay.
This year, four restaurants took home the top prize for the very best burger, including an FIU alumnus.
From Wagyu beef sliders topped in a secret sauce, to a double cheeseburger with caramelized onions on a pretzel bun, to a brisket-and-short-rib smash burger, about two dozen chefs competed for bragging rights and a monetary prize ranging from $2,000 to $5,000.
Due to the pandemic, the Friday night event was divided into two sessions. During each, celebrity judges ranging from local TV news personalities Belkys Nerey, Lisa Petrillo, Kelly Blanco and Mariana Rodriguez, to MasterChef Season 10 contestant Nick DiGiovanni bit into burger after burger and then voted on their favorites.
And, the winners are:
The Schweid & Sons® Very Best Burger Judges Award went to American Social in Miami and Ted's Burgers, a pop-up out of J. Wakefield in Wynwood.
For the People's Choice Award, Kush—owned by Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management alumnus Matt Kushner—took home top prize for the Frita Burger. Kush Hialeah head chef Leo Osorio, also an alumnus, took the stage to collect the $5,000.00 grand prize from Food Network star Bobby Flay.
"I love Miami, and it’s awesome— and I feel great pride to have won being from Miami and winning a Miami prize like this," said Osorio, whose daughter is a current FIU student.
The Frita Burger is an all chuck patty topped with guava jelly, bacon, potato sticks and Kush's special Russian dressing layered on a bun that's pressed and flattened.
"It's nice and crispy and crunchy. It's got that savory goodness, crunch as well and a good sweetness to it," Osorio added.
The other fan-favorite went to Pig Beach in West Palm Beach.
The night was an all-around success for alumni and students, including the ones on-site helping during the event. About 1,200 students volunteered at the Festival and $31.8 million has been raised to date for the Chaplin School.