Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Josh Ozersky and the 'Big O' Burger

Good friend and healthy competitor for burger attention in NYC Josh 'Mister Cutlets' Ozersky  is designing a burger. He was silently jealous of the fact that I've had a burger named after me for years and finally did something about it. He said this on his blog The Feedbag the other day: 

"It's often struck me as an injustice that George Motz... got to create one of the city's best burgers, and I didn't. The Motz Burger at Harry's Water Taxi Beach, is brilliant."

The 'brilliance' that Cutlets speaks of lies in its simplicity. The Motz Burger is not about crazy toppings or gargantuan proportions. Fresh ground beef (ground practically at the griddle) is scooped and pressed onto a flattop and served on a toasted white squishy bun. Harry has added his signature burger sauce (Schnack Sauce) but the Motz Burger tastes great with or without.

The burger Cutlets is creating will be called the 'Big O' and will make its debut at a future hamburger venture planned by the owners of Steak Frites. Unfortunately, Cutlets does not yet know what will go into said burger and is uncharacteristically taking suggestions on his website. Cutlets knows his burgers though and the 'Big O' should be a hit (assuming he avoids the suggestions that I've read already.)

Oh, and I should mention that the burger Cutlets is posing with in his post (and above) is a Motz Burger on the griddle...(photo by Jason Perlow)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Bun Poll

Sorry that it took so long to post about the bun poll but the results were predictable. White Squishy won in a landslide and the potato roll was a distant second. Surprisingly, a few folks voted for brioche. Maybe they were French, or they have actually had a good brioche roll before. Someone did point out that the pretzel roll was left off the list. That's because before the poll I had never even heard of the pretzel roll. But after a visit to the beloved Kuma's Corner in Chicago I too have sampled the said roll and enjoyed it (but still love the white squishy).

New poll up now. Comments have been shut off on new posts due to some unnecessary harassment. Sorry that one bad egg has to ruin it for the rest of us.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Shake Shack In The Snow

Now that the Shake Shack in Madison Park is open year-round it seems the line has thinned at lunch time (especially when the temp drops below freezing). I had not been in a while so I checked the ShackCam for the status of the wait only to find not a single person in line at 12:15pm on a Tuesday. Then I noticed the outdoor heaters and was on my way. It was only around 38 degrees out and the crowd was thin. Just as my brother and I got our burgers it started to snow hard and the crowd scattered. The outdoor heaters? Broken. We sat and enjoyed our warm, buttered burgers as we were pelted by wet snow. It was totally worth the trip but we probably should have gone to the newer UWS Shack that has indoor seating.

By the way, Shake Shack has embraced the 'line' that inevitably forms at the Madison Park location on warm days. So much so that they have incorporated the image into their homepage flash.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Hamburger America TV Pilot, Filmed in Houston

We chose Houston to shoot the pilot episode for Hamburger America the TV Show (working title) because there are great burgers there and it's warm this time of year. We originally chose Oklahoma for the pilot but decided against it fearing the cold weather would affect the show. Turns out we were right and wrong. The weather was warm, but tornadoes ravaged the state earlier this week and definitely would have impacted the show.

We filmed for 2 days visiting Christian's Tailgate, Lankford Grocery, Blake's BBQ & Burgers, and of course Tookie's in Seabrook. Christian's and Lankford are both in the book so visiting was like coming home. The interviews were great and the burgers as I remembered. Tookie's was closed of course thanks to Hurricane Ike but we visited anyway to show how important it is to appreciate these places (it was sad to see the water line still on the windows). There was still lots of visible hurricane damage 4 months after (as you can see from the spooky sign above). 

Blake's was a spot in a West Houston neighborhood that was suggested to us by local food critic Robb Walsh. He sure chose correctly because Blake's has a damned tasty burger. Owner Don Blake himself was a trip and the whole thing made for a great story.

Overall things went great. The pilot is being edited right now and I'll be in LA for voiceovers early March. Check back soon for more info and click here to see photos from the shoot.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tookie's is Definitely Closed - I Was There

I just got back from Houston where I saw, with my own eyes, the wrath that Hurricane Ike has wrought. "It looked a lot worse a few months ago," our sound guy Scott told me (we were in Houston filming the pilot for Hamburger America the TV show, more on that tomorrow). In the photos above you can see what the interior of Tookies used to look like and what it looks like now. It was truly heartbreaking. I noticed a waterline that was at about 5 feet so I'm assuming anything under that mark was trashed by water damage.

Interestingly, the place was cleaned out, free of tables, chairs, and swept clean. Is the owner planning on reopening? Who knows, especially since he won't return my calls. While we were filming shots of me looking in the windows a guy pulled up to ask what we were doing. He told me, "I've offered to buy the place but still haven't heard back from him."

Let's hope they reopen. What a wipeout it would be if we lost the Squealer.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Beard Burger Bash a Success

The snow and cold did not keep 100 hungry burger lovers away from the first ever "Beard Burger Bash", a burger party hosted by the James Beard Foundation that included guest speeches from myself and the 'other' burger mind Josh Ozersky. Harry Hawk cranked out almost 500 burgers in various sizes representing regional favorites from around the country. The burgers featured at the party included the Southern Pimento Cheeseburger, the Oklahoma Onion-Fried Burger, the New Mexican Green Chile Cheeseburger, and the local favorite Motz Burger (with Schnack sauce). 

Harry and a huge team of volunteers ground the beef in full view of party guests and cooked all of the burgers on a flattop griddle. Plates of burgers were dispatched by servers who were immediately attacked at the kitchen door and sent back for more (I actually heard one of the servers exclaim 'Mama Mia!' as she made her way back to the kitchen for more.) Eventually the crowd was sated but just about every burger made was consumed. Josh and I signed a few books (photo by Laurie Pila Horowitz), answered questions, and had a great time.

Thanks to JBF for hosting an event that celebrated the hamburger. Thanks also to all that attended and sorry to those who could not get into this sold-out event. Josh and I are already planning the next big burger party...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Big City Slider Station - Into the Garbage

After reading so many complaints about the Big City Slider Station I've decided to give mine the heave-ho. The non-stick surface stopped working in some key places and it became a pain to clean. But when I read that the non-stick surface of one customer's pan was flaking off into the burger I made an immediate executive decision to toss the pan in the garbage.

Shame on you Billy Mays.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Hamburger America TV

That's right, a Hollywood production company is in development to create a series based on my travels and some of the amazing burger experiences I have had. There's really no shortage of great burgers and stories out there so the series may have over 700 episodes (just kidding). And for the first time I'll be in front of the camera instead of behind it for a change. We'll see how this experiment in filming goes...

Stay tuned - the pilot episode takes place in Houston.