We’re kidding ourselves if we think that burgers were meant only to be crafted and consumed. The juicy summer staple was designed to also duke it out with its beefy brethren. And in the case of the annual Burger Brawl, returning for its third year, the fight also helps to raise money for elementary schools. And you thought burgers were just for eating.
“The idea came to me when my wife and I were at a meeting at Meredith Elementary, where our oldest son was going,” says Rob Wasserman, Burger Brawl founder and owner of Rouge, 500 Degrees and Ardmore’s The Saint James. “I looked at my wife and said, ‘Maybe there’s something we can do?’ Well that was the silliest thing I ever said — there was plenty to do. It’s a huge amount of work, but it’s all totally worth it.”
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After making a few calls to his industry buddies, Wasserman was able to pull together the first Burger Brawl in 2011.
The concept is simple: roughly two dozen restaurants from around the city meet up at the Fleisher Art Memorial to hand out burger samples to a hungry crowd. Some are purists and dish out a no-frills product. Others go nuts with mini-slabs of pork belly, pickled toppings, and other unexpected flavor combinations. A panel of judges crowns their winner, while the now stuffed crowd votes to name one patty the people’s choice. The prize is a year’s worth of bragging rights. And every year the bar is raised a little higher, the trash talking gets a little dirtier, and the victory dances become more elaborate.
“Everybody is stepping up,” says Wasserman. “Philly is so community-oriented, it’s great. All the restaurants are happy to help. I can’t say enough about the chefs. They’re using their time, money and effort to be there and it just makes the whole thing come together.”
Good Dog is serving up a roquefort cheese-stuffed patty.
If you go
May 5, 3-6 p.m., $75
Fleisher Art Memorial
719 Catherine St.