The Dos And Don’ts of Competing in Our Burger & Beer Blast
Westchester’s top chefs and restaurateurs give us their tips for making our Burger & Beer Blast their own.
Photo by Heather Sommer
We're a little more than a month away from our grandest, funnest (most drunk?) event of the year, Westchester Magazine's Wine & Food Festival. With that comes our highly anticipated beef-centric cook-off known as the Burger & Beer Blast.
Have you ever wondered if you have what it takes to compete? While the patties were flying and the griddles sizzling during last year's competition, we grabbed an aside with each competitor to find out what makes a great burger, the secrets to a timely turnaround, and what you want to avoid when slinging sliders for upwards of 3,000 hungry Westchesterites!
Without further ado, we present to you some of the best advice we received: The official Dos and Don’ts of Burger Blast!
• Share! Before the gates even opened, Shake Shack was handing out their full-size Shack Burgers. Not to guests, but to their fellow competitors. That move is not only classy but fosters goodwill and camaraderie!
• Have quality and quantity. “Make sure you have plenty of staff, and good presentation.” — Walter’s Hot Dog Truck
• Portion conservatively. “You’ve got to figure out a way to split the burgers. Even a 2oz [patty], people will be taking a bite and throwing out some of it. And it just lasts longer.” — L’Inizio
• Pace yourself, chefs. “Bring it out strategically. If you put it out, they will come.” – L’Inizio
• Bring one or more portable fridges/freezers. If you can afford it and have the space to transport it, it’s a great way to keep your fresh ingredients colder, more evenly throughout the night. — Several anonymous chefs side-eyeing the Shake Shack booth
• “Start a little bit earlier,” especially if you have a burger that needs to be grilled all the way through, like tuna. — Eastchester Fish Gourmet
• Be patient. “You can’t rush it. With this many people, you can tell from the tables there’s no keeping up with [the demand].” — Mighty Quinn’s BBQ
• Double-glove. This one actually blew our minds, but it’s definitely not for the faint of heart. “Wear double-gloves and flip ‘em with your hands. Watch!” It’s definitely speedier (and more adventurous) than a spatula. Definite ‘Don’t try this at home’ territory. — 3 Westerly
• Be economical. “Pack the most amount of flavor into the least amount of ingredients. If not, you’re wasting time.” — The Wooden Spoon
• “Keep is simple.” — License 2 Grill
“'KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid.' Two to three steps, no more. Too much gets crazy.” — The Whitlock
• Love what you do. “Quality in the products, quality in the execution, love in the process.” — AJ’s Burgers
• “Have fun!” — Piper’s Kilt
• “Overwork the meat.” Handle it sparingly, flip it minimally. — Peter Kelly, X2O
• “Go too crazy.” Remember, simpler really is better, and allows you to taste the meat and individual ingredients. — Smokehouse Tailgate Grill
• “Do too many moves. Simplicity of steps. Complication slows down production.” — Memphis Mae’s
• “Run out of food. Overestimate everything. It’s one of the biggest events in Westchester every year, so plan accordingly.” — Walter’s Hot Dog Truck
• “Forget the napkins!” — Coals