One-Eyed Betty’s chef earns prize of Detroit’s best burger

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published August 20, 2013

 One-Eyed Betty’s chef, Emmele Herrold, won the second annual Detroit Burger Brawl Aug. 10 at Eastern Market in Detroit after beating out 16 other local restaurants. Herrold made a doughnut burger for the final round, stuffing the doughnut bun with several classic toppings to win over the judges.

One-Eyed Betty’s chef, Emmele Herrold, won the second annual Detroit Burger Brawl Aug. 10 at Eastern Market in Detroit after beating out 16 other local restaurants. Herrold made a doughnut burger for the final round, stuffing the doughnut bun with several classic toppings to win over the judges.

Photo by Joshua Gordon

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FERNDALE — Emmele Herrold has mastered One-Eyed Betty’s Betty Burger over the past 18 months as the head chef of the Ferndale restaurant. From the house-ground beef to each of the burger’s toppings, Herrold is so confident in the burger that it is the only one on the menu.

But Herrold also showed Aug. 10 that she could make a totally different burger and make it a hit, as well.

Herrold represented One-Eyed Betty’s during the second annual Detroit Burger Brawl at Eastern Market and Fairway Packing in Detroit. After using the Betty Burger to get through the first two rounds, Herrold created a doughnut burger to take home first prize as Detroit’s best burger.

“It was pretty awesome; I’m still in shock a little bit,” Herrold, 33, said of taking first place. “It was awesome to win, and by the time I was in the top two, I was a little less shocked, but it was pretty amazing to win and even be up there for the finals.

“I was the only girl in the top eight, and I know a lot of the other chefs, so more than any poll or best burger in a paper, this was cooler because I was going up against all these guys I respect and (I) know their work.”

The final round required Herrold and the Rattlesnake Club chef Chris Franz to create a unique and different burger than what they did for the first two rounds. They were able to run through Fairway Packing to pick their meat, an experience Herrold said was “like a kid in a candy store.”

Herrold used wagyu short rib, dry-aged brisket and ground chuck for her burger patty, but it was the bun that set her creation apart from Franz’s. Herrold used doughnut batter to make the bun and filled it with blue cheese, cream cheese, jalapenos, mushrooms and onions.

“We do house-made doughnuts, so we have this dough and I played with it with some different fillings, but I wanted to stay away from having it look like a doughnut, so there is no hole in it, and I didn’t put any sugar in it,” Herrold said. “I looked at all the things I love on a burger and kind of melted them in the bun when frying, and it provides another level of flavor.”

Elizabeth Durham-Adragna, and her husband, Jeremy Adragna, are the organizers of the event that had 17 restaurants competing for the top prize. The inaugural year brought about 700 people to Eastern Market, but in its second year, the event had more than 2,100 people in attendance.

Durham-Adragna said while both burgers in the final round were outstanding, Herrold really set herself apart and had a runaway hit with her doughnut burger.

“Chef Emmele is just a really down-to-earth kind of gal and she was cool as a cucumber going up against a Detroit institution,” Durham-Adragna said. “All in all, I think the event was really fun for the chefs, and in the final round, they were able to take their gloves off and be creative. Emmele stuck to what her clients love and what they are known for, which is their burger and doughnuts, so she paired the two.”

Herrold is a Pleasant Ridge native who said she has been cooking since a young age, learning from her mom growing up. Over the years, she has had a restaurant in Colorado and worked the front of the house at the restaurant that was previously in One-Eyed Betty’s location.

When the opportunity came about almost two years ago, Herrold said she was more than ready to have her own kitchen again.

“I have done some restaurant stuff and office stuff and catered on my own, but it had been a while since I was in my kitchen,” Herrold said. “I ran into someone who was my babysitter growing up, and she said she wasn’t surprised I was a chef because I always liked to be in the kitchen. I definitely learned from my mom, but she said I surpassed her a long time ago.”

While the doughnut burger was a big hit at the Burger Brawl, Herrold said she has no plans to put it on the menu at One-Eyed Betty’s. She is willing to give anyone who wants to try it one opportunity.

“The burger takes a lot of work and the dough we make it with takes about 24 hours to be ready, and we already sell so many doughnuts,” she said. “But, I promised I would do the burger as a one-day special, probably on a week night, but I haven’t picked a date. We are already having people come in and request it, but I want to continue to showcase our burger on our menu.”

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