Right away I was accused of a 'fix'. I was asked to be a judge at the first ever Burger Battle of the Boroughs but quickly declined because there was a burger in the competition from Harry's at Water Taxi Beach called the Motz Burger. Fran Grace, the organizer of the Queens event, asked me to be the evening's emcee and I gladly accepted. When the Motz Burger won I was stunned. Not because I thought the burger I designed for Harry was not worthy of praise, but because the competition was fierce.
Some of the city's very best burgers competed for the crown. The oft-praised Resto was there, as well as Brooklyn's amazing 67 Burger, BRGR in Manhattan (I consulted for them before opening), Flushing's tasty Joe's Bestburger, the Bronx' pizza outpost Coals (whose burger is not even on the menu!), and the Ditmas Park newcomer The Farm on Adderley whose burger looked amazing. The judges for the event were CBS News Food Expert Tony Tantillo, NYC-TV's Kelly Choi, the 'other' hamburger author Josh Ozersky, restauranteur and chef Terrence Brennan, and food author Arthur Schwartz. With the exception of Josh Ozersky none of the judges had tasted the Motz Burger before the contest. Further, the contest was conducted by blind tasting (each burger was given a number) so there was no way to match the chef with the burger. When Harry was crowned (see photo above) and the Motz Burger had won I immediately felt guilty because I was standing up there doing running dialogue as each burger came out for tasting. I only made one comment at the beginning of the competition about the reason I was not a judge to the crowd and never pushed the Motz Burger more than any other burger. I think Harry was almost in tears when the winner was announced and he looked kinda like Frank Black on the cover of Teenager of the Year with that silly crown on.
It is a damn good burger and Harry should be proud. There's really nothing to it either. Harry did the right thing and brought his grinder to the event (which no one else did). It's hard to beat a burger that's made from beef that was ground only 15 minutes before cooking. It was also the only burger that was never touched by hands after grinding. The secret to this amazing burger is to grind fresh beef, use a measured scoop to collect a 1/4 pound wad of the beef, place the wad on a hot griddle and press it into a patty. The result is a moist, loosely-packed patty that has a tactile quality like no other. The addition of Harry's chipotle-mayo sauce and a buttered, toasted bun complete the package.
The Motz Burger is seasonal and can be found at Water Taxi Beach in Long Island City, Queens. Click here for directions and come on down for a burger! The Motz Burger will be served all summer and during the NYC Food Film Festival which runs at the beach from June 14th-June 20th.