RochesterAugust 22, 2012
Burger bests get ready to rumble at first Burger Brawl
By Mary Beth Almond and Tiffany Esshaki
C & G Staff Writers
ROCHESTER — There are plenty of folks in metro Detroit who claim to know where you can get the best burger around. On Saturday, some all-star judges will settle the issue in the first Detroit Burger Brawl at Detroit’s Eastern Market.
On Aug. 25, 16 competitors will make their way downtown to go head to head, or rather bun to bun, for titles like Most Unique Grind, Best Dressed, and of course, Detroit’s Best Burger of 2012. Among those vying for the top spot will be three Rochester-area burger staples — O’Connor’s Public House in Rochester, and Chapman’s Mill Restaurant and Bar and The Hills Bar & Grille in Rochester Hills.
Although Michael Keys, executive chef at O’Connor’s Public House, was wary about giving out too many details about his burger before the event, he did share a few secrets.
“We involved our charcoal supplier, which is a local Rochester guy, so we’ll be cooking our burger on Wicked Good Charcoal, so that’s kind of cool — it’s one of our secret weapons,” he said. “We’re doing a layered burger. Without telling you everything that’s in it, it’s going to be a more high-end burger — we’re grinding some very unique meats and then we’ll be topping it with some really interesting ingredients and some secret sauces.”
Keys said he expects the burger to rate well among the judges.
“We’ve been secretly tasting them in the restaurant for the last two and half weeks. We’ve had all of our regulars and friends of the pub in there, and everybody is pretty excited about our burger. It’s a great tasting burger and it’s a little higher-end burger. It’s not just a hamburger. It’s more like a steak burger.”
After the event, the burger — which Keys said is a completely new creation — will be available on the menu at O’Connor’s Public House for a limited time.
Randy Jarman, a partner at Chapman’s Mill Restaurant and Bar, said burgers are quickly becoming the most popular item on the menu at the establishment.
“We’re getting well known for our burgers here,” he said. “We use great beef from Fairway Packing Co. in the Eastern Market. It’s a choice blend of certified Angus beef for the patty, and then we have some secret ingredients for the Burger Brawl that we are going to put on top of it. … We are going to go give it our best shot and hopefully we can win.”
A representative of The Hills Bar & Grille could not be reached for comment at press time.
Other nearby Burger Brawl competitors include Café Via and Townhouse Bistro in Birmingham.
Michael Adock, sous chef at Café Via, said he knows the judges will be impressed with their burger contender — a special combination of ground beef, frisee lettuce, truffle mayonnaise, pickled red onion and marinated roasted tomatoes, dubbed “melted” tomatoes, on a Brioche bun.
“The balance of the flavors really work well together,” he said of the burger, which he’s been building since the restaurant opened 3 1/2 years ago. “I think our product is superior. I think our food and our flavors will speak for themselves.”
Just down the street from Café Via is Townhouse Bistro, which also claims to have the best burger in town. According to Townhouse bartender and server Sean May, their burger — a 28-day dry-aged proprietary blend of premium steak cuts topped with bourbon-caramelized onions, Vermont Cabot light cheddar cheese on a buttered Brioche bun — is sure to come out on top, he said.
“It’s a premium product. It’s not just your typical slider. It’s a 10-ounce steak of a burger, and it should be treated as such. It’s a high-quality, delicious meal of a burger,” said May. “People ask me, ‘Is it really that good?’ Yes. It’s really that good.”
Guests who head down to the free brawl will likely get the chance to taste samples from several of the competitors, or grab snacks from one of the food trucks scheduled to appear. While spectators munch, the competing chefs will take turns at the grill cooking up their custom creations for the judges panel, which includes Detroit Red Wings zamboni driver “Octopus” Al Sobotka, Garden Fresh Gourmet founder Jack Aronson, and Bacco Ristorante and Pizzeria Biga owner Luciano Del Signore.
Also competing will be Beau Jack’s in Bloomfield Hills, Mr. Chalet in Royal Oak, and Mr. Paul’s in Roseville, among others.
The event will take place in Eastern Market in front of Fairway Packing Co., 1313 Erskine in Detroit, which is sponsoring the event. The competition will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, visit www.DetroitBurgerBrawl.com.
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