Forget seven: Looks like four is the lucky number for Michael Symon, who just nabbed his fourth People’s Choice award at the South Beach Food and Wine Festival’s Burger Bash.
Forget seven: Looks like four is the lucky number for The Chew‘s Michael Symon, who just nabbed his fourth People’s Choice award at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival’s Burger Bash.
More than 30 chefs cooked up their best burgers at the party, vying for votes from the thousands of hungry guests there to eat and drink their way through the night.
Symon — who runs B Spot Burgers in Cleveland — dominated the popular vote with his Fat Doug burger, a thick patty topped with coleslaw, pastrami, Havarti cheese and mustard. [premium title=”Get the recipe here.” url=”https://www.people.com/people/premium/celebfood/recipe/0,,20710304,00.html”]
Before the winners were announced, Symon talked to PEOPLE about his decision to re-enter the Fat Doug, which he also won with in 2010. “We have our eyes on the prize again, and it was feeling like it was time to go back to the classic. Because there are some amazing burgers and chefs here so winning tonight is not going to be easy. What am I saying? It’s never easy to win burger bash. Look at the level of talent in this tent. Awesome,” he said.
After the party, host Rachael Ray praised the chef for returning to his roots. “Mike Symon has won four times here. I think that makes him the Burger King, right? He always does something with multiple or double meats, like tonight’s Fat Doug burger with pastrami. He went old school because that’s one of his classics and it paid off. Amazing,” she told PEOPLE.
Although Symon took home the top honor in 2010, 2011, and 2012, Bobby Flay, who didn’t attend this year, swiped the 2013 title from him. Flay didn’t attend this year’s party, but Top Chef alum Spike Mendelsohn made sure he was there in spirit.
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“This is my homage to him, he couldn’t make it so we’re doing it for Bobby, we’re going to win for Bobby,” he said before the winners were named.
Ray made her Twitter followers hungry by posting updates throughout the night featuring some of Symon’s meaty competitors, including burgers from The Phil’s Tavern in Pennsylvania, Pork Slope in Brooklyn and H&F Burger in Atlanta:
And even the much-hyped Ramen Burger couldn’t match up, though chef Keizo Shimamoto happily posed with Ray during the festivities:
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Partygoers may have picked Symon’s patty, but a panel of celebrity chefs, including Anne Burrell and Andrew Zimmern, awarded two other prizes. The Judges’ Favorite went to Danny Meyer and his nationwide chain Shake Shack for a cheeseburger topped with crispy beer-marinated shallots, and Red Robin’s Best of the Bash Award was given to Brad Halsten of the Burger Dive in Billings, Montana, for his Blackened Sabbath Burger (made with bacon, onion rings, garlic basil mayo, goat cheese, arugula and Sriracha sauce).
Many people left wondering: Why the name Fat Doug, and is Doug really fat? Symon clarified. “I actually named it after my business partner Doug Petkovic. And here’s the thing: he’s actually quite svelte. But Doug is a huge fan of pastrami and is always on the hunt for the best sandwich. So even though he’s a thin guy, this burger is fat and juicy and, yeah, just really good,” he said.
One thing is certain: The meaty stakes will be even higher at Burger Bash 2015.