Hamburger Hop, an annual event that takes place in Chicago the night before the “Bon Appétit presents Chicago Gourmet weekend,” took place on Sept. 27. Fifteen Chicagoland chefs competed in this tasting frenzy hosted by Buckhead Meat of Chicago, which supplied the beef for the competition, and Blue Moon Brewing Company.
At the 10th installment of the event under a big tent near Chicago’s Millennial Park, the chefs grilled, assembled and served their creations, showcasing how easy it is to bring excitement to one of America’s favorite foods. It all starts with the beef. The majority used either Certified Angus Beef (CAB) or “1946,” Buckhead’s proprietary blend of CAB chuck, brisket and short rib.
Chef Kevin Cuddihee of Porter Kitchen & Deck took home the Judges’ Award and the People’s Choice Award for Chicago’s Best Burger, making him only the second chef in Chicago Gourmet history to take home both titles. His winning recipe was the Hawaiian Truffle. He served CAB prime burger with Alpha Morning Sun truffle cheese, porcini aioli and bordelaise onions on a Hawaiian bun.
Here’s the other 14 creations to provide you some innovation inspiration. Many of the chefs tied in Chicago themes and flavor combinations. But in the end, flavor was all that mattered.
- Big Kahuna by Amanda Downing Salas of The Smoke Daddy in Wrigleyville: CAB prime burger with smoked pulled pork, coleslaw, smoked jalapeno jam and Smoke Daddy original barbecue sauce on a French brioche bun
- Chicago Classic by James Klewin of The Burger Federation: CAB prime burger with Italian beef, provolone cheese, house-made giardiniera, lettuce and tomato on a Kaiser roll
- Good Burger by Michael McKinnell of Mordecai: CAB steak burger with “Ed’s” special sauce, lettuce, pickles, onion and American cheese on a potato bun with sesame seeds
- Good Castle by Matt Troost of Good Measure: 1946 burger with Harold’s smoked American cheese, Kumar’s spicy CBD aioli, foie caramelized onions and pickles on a Hawaiian bun
- Royale with Cheese by Katie Wasielewski of Pub Royale: 1946 burger with aged cheddar, diced onions, spicy pickles and gochujang aioli on a sesame bun
- Tallow Burga Nights by Ryan Burns of Monnie Burke’s: 1946 burger with beef tallow mayonnaise, grilled and raw onions, garlic pickles, smoked bacon, Butterkase cheese on a Parker house bun with sesame seeds
- The BBB! by John Gatsos of Tavern on Rush: CAB prime burger with blueberry-onion confit, smoky bacon, aged cheddar and Jack cheeses, and Greek yogurt on a wheat bun
- The Florentine Caprese by Zach Walrath of The Florentine: 1946 burger with 24-hour roasted tomatoes, basil pesto, prosciutto, smoked provoletto and truffle aioli on a multi-seed Parker house bun
- The Good, The Bad & The Ugly by Gabriel Freeman of Scofflaw: 1946 burger with green Hatch chilies, smoked cheddar, tobacco onions and pickles on a jalapeno cheddar bun
- The Killer by Greg and Kristina Gaardbo of Chicago Culinary Kitchen: Two 1946 burgers with pickled cherry peppers, tallownasye, pepper jack cheese, St. Andres cheese, hatch chili bacon jam, scrapple, duck egg, Cuban mustard and clotted crème on a French brioche bun
- The Penthouse by Michael Clark of Mastro’s Steakhouse: CAB prime burger with bourbon-maple steak bacon, Iowa-aged cheddar, house mustard, house pickled shallots on a gourmet hamburger bun
- The Swill by Lamar Moore of The Swill Inn/Chit Chat Lounge: CAB prime burger with pimiento cheese, pickles and cheddar cheese on a golden brioche bun
- Urban Diner by John McLean and Martin Murch of Burger Bar: 1946 burger with American cheese, fried pickle, onion, lettuce, tomato, fried egg and urban sauce on a Parker house bun
- When Half Sour Met Sally by Mike Matos and Zach Downing of Half Sour: 1946 burger with Old Bay aioli, Half Sour slaw, pepper jack cheese and raspberry jam on a marble rye bun