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Burger Bash: NYC vs. MIA

Erstwhile and intrepid Eater Miami correspondent Jackie Sayet has traveled to Gotham with the Michael's Genuine Food & Drink team and is embedded with the troops at the NYC Wine and Food Festival. Tough gig, we know. In this post she investigates which Burger Bash is better--NYC's or MIA's. Twenty-two chefs may have been vying for their haul of three awards at last night's Blue Moon Burger Bash presented by Pat LaFrieda Meats at Brooklyn's Tobacco Warehouse, but the real prize up for grabs was which burger blast is better -- New York's or Miami's. Early verdict: The Big Apple may know how to throw a party with great views (cue the Brooklyn Bridge!) and brews (Blue Moon flowing everywhere!) but when comparing burger quality, South Beach brings the real heat.

His Allen Brother's Golden Grill award win in February brought with it an invitation for Michael Schwartz to throw down with host Rachael Ray up north, competing with the likes of Bill's Bar & Burger (sure,) past winner Spike Mendelsohn of Good Stuff Eatery (yep,) Minetta Tavern (of course,) and the Hamptons Burger Bloodbath winner Mo Koyfman (huh?). After a rocky start, literally with construction and gravel making for precarious hot box load-in, grills were fired and Genuine Bacon Cheeseburgers sizzled.

Heinz 57 picked The Hurricane Club's Craig Koketsu's burger best dressed. We would have cited Alex Raij's choice of Idiazabal sheep's milk cheese, vinegar green chile-laced "Salsa Especial," and house pickled onions, and cornichons as top toppings, although her Txikito "El Doble" burger was a tad over-seasoned and rubbery for our taste. In the end, judges Christine Quinn, Gail Simmons, Anne Burrell, Alex Guarnaschelli, and Bruce Seidel named the Shack Burger no. 1, and longtime first loser Bobby Flay and his "Santa Fe Burger" with queso sauce, roasted green chiles, and blue corn chips won the popularity contest. It tasted like nachos.

MGFD team consensus of the night's best entries were the "Bash Burger" with griddled patty, caramelized onions, bacon jam, and special sauce on a sesame seed bun from defending champion chef Josh Capone of Lure Fishbar; Spike's take on the Banh Mi -- the "Blazin' Barn" with picked carrot and daikon, thai basil, cilantro, and sriracha mayo and Vietnamese coffee milkshake; and of course, Shake Shack Madison Square Park which brought the iconic Shack Burger. If you asked friends Ottavia Bourdain and Tania Van Pelt where their People's Choice vote made a jingle it was in your hometown team's token box! Andrew Zimmern, Jeffrey Chodorow, Ted Allen, and others agreed.

Early in the evening, festival godfather Lee Schrager zipped through with new best buddy in tow, Barneys New York Creative Director Simon Doonan. Rachael Ray was next, making the rounds and going gah gah for executive pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith's peanut butter s'mores with homemade toasted cocoa nib marshmallows.

See for yourself how it all went down in our exclusive photo gallery.