Chicago Tribune: Hamburger Hop-Chicago's biggest battle of the burger crowns a clear winner from 15 chefs

Phil VettelContact ReporterChicago Tribune

In the end, there was One Burger To Rule Them All.

At last night’s Hamburger Hop, the official kickoff event to the 11th annual “Bon Appetit Presents Chicago Gourmet,” chef Tony Priolo made Hamburger Hop history by winning both the judges’ vote and the People’s Choice award.

Priolo, chef-owner of Maillard Tavern (as well as Piccolo Sogno and Nonnina), took the unprecedented dual honor with his City Slicker burger, which was adorned with black-truffle pesto, foie-gras mayo, seared foie gras and crispy prosciutto di Parma.

But if “foie gras is cheating,” as at least one judge and one chef joked, Priolo had plenty of company in the outlandish ingredient department.

Mike Warner of The Franklin Room used Laphroaig single-malt Scotch-miso sauce and kimchi in his spicy burger. Moosah Reaume of Virgin Hotels built his double-patty burger with smoked ketchup and black-garlic aioli (if this burger doesn’t show up on Virgin menus, that hotel group is crazy). Corey Grupe of Timothy O’Toole’s used balsamic-glazed onion jam and black-truffle aioli, while Alisha Elenz of mfk made her Biz Makin You Crazy burger with “bizkaina” sauce (Spanish vizcaina sauce, renamed for the burger and a reference to Bar Biscay, mfk’s sister restaurant).

Burgers took an international flavor this year. Louie Alexakis of Avli restaurant offered a Meat the Greek burger with grape-must-glazed eggplant and ouzo-marinated pickles. Mad Social’s Josue Salmeron’s South of the Border burger included salsa verde, Chihuahua cheese and cilantro. Miguel Ortiz of Gemini created a Reign of Spain burger with chorizo aioli and escabeche. Kinzie Chophouse’s Susan Frasca presented a Taste of Italy burger with smoked lardo, truffle peels and provolone dolce.

The burger buns were supplied by Turano Baking Co., and most chefs went with Turano’s brioche bun. But Kevin Cuddihee of TWO used a marble-rye bun for his Kev Cud’s burger (with pastrami bacon and butterkase cheese) and Frasca selected a spicy red-pepper slider bun.

Joe Rossi of Miller’s Pub used a custom, sweet-cornmeal bun for its Rib Burger, essentially a deconstructed barbecue with beef, boneless spare rib, barbecue sauce and smoked cheddar cheese. Best of all was the aged-cheddar bun that Cochon Volant’s Matt Ayala used in his four-cheese Don’t You Four Cheddar ’Bout Me burger.

Hamburger Hop, now in its ninth year, is a friendly burger-building competition featuring more than a dozen local chefs (15 chefs this year) competing for bragging rights (and some nifty prizes, including a cooler full of prime meats from sponsor Buckhead Meat Chicago).

Burgers were judged by a panel including TV personality and author Carla Hall, Lin Brehmer of 93XRT, California-based chef Bruce Karman, and local chefs Tony Mantuanoand John Hogan.

To cool things down, Dana Salls Cree and Michael Ciapciak of Pretty Cool Ice Cream handed out frozen treats, in root beer and malted strawberry milkshake flavors. The perfect finish to a night of burger bingeing.

pvettel@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @PhilVettel

Elizabeth Bowers