Interviews

Gerry Glynn, Digital Journalist

Eating and Drinking in Jacksonville, FL

 

Our curated Jacksonville burger list comes from Gerry Glynn, creator Gerry Glenn of the website Eat.Drink.Jax.

Officially launched in 2012, EatDrinkJax is a food-seeker’s guide to Jacksonville. Not only does it have a directory with more than 800 local restaurants and bars (complete with addresses, phone numbers and menus), but it goes behind the scenes and does one-on-one interviews with food folks — like the owner of the Jacksonville Hamburger Mary’s, and city’s own Burger Geeks.

EatDrinkJax has a small in-house review team, but it also highlights reviews from leading critics around the city. Plus, the website offers an eclectic collection of city food and drink recommendations, including a craft beer guide, gluten-free listings, and a directory of Golden Spoon winners from Florida Trend magazine.

EatDrinkJax Logo

Because EatDrinkJax is neutral platform for chefs and restaurateurs, Glynn was reluctant to give a personal “best-of” opinion, but he did talk to us about hamburgers, citing examples of who does things right in Jacksonville.

BBR: What makes a great burger?
For me it’s a combination of a lot of things. Taste is the most important. A burger needs to be flavorful while being neither dry nor greasy. Mojo is an example of a smokey, barbecued burger with fabulous taste.

Being cooked right. I like a burger that’s cooked to medium-rare. Many places want to serve their burgers well done but, for me, that takes away from the flavor. Black Sheep does a perfect job of cooking their burgers to order.

A good bun helps a lot, although I eat most of my burgers without a bun. When I do have a bun it needs to be substantial enough to hold the burger together without being intrusive on the taste of the burger itself. I want to primarily taste the burger, not the bun. Pinegrove Market gets the balance just right.

Done right, toppings can enhance a burger. But like the bun, I don’t want toppings getting in the way of the main course. Epik Burger in Jacksonville has a ton of innovative toppings and is an example of a place that gets their toppings right.

Korean BBQ Burger
Korean BBQ Burger from Epik. BBQ Marinade, Kim Chi, Fried Egg, Green Onions (Photo courtesy EatDrinkJax).

The ambiance of the restaurant can enhance the enjoyment of eating the burger. Price matters too. I’d rather pay a little more to get a great burger but when I pay more my expectations are higher.

BBR: What burger is on your bucket list?
My bucket list is actually to try as many different burgers as I can. I love burgers and will often gravitate to the burger on a menu. But, I’d rather risk an unknown burger than play it safe, so I explore whenever I can.

BBR: What burger do you love but are embarrassed to admit?
I’m not actually embarrassed about this but I love McDonalds, Wendy’s, Hardee’s and a lot of fast food places. The global success of the US fast food industry is testament to what a great job they’ve done delivering solid products with great service, prices and consistency. Even though I mostly eat at local restaurants in Jacksonville I tend to eat at fast food chains when I’m on the road and need to make a quick decision about a fast meal.

“We Love Hamburgers”

Burger Lift Creators Talk Burgers

Burger lovers, tired of soggy buns? The Burger Lift is the must-have gadget that will save your burger. Created by burger fans, just like you, the Burger Lift is a small trivet that elevates your juicy burger off the plate, keeping your bun high and dry.

  “The Burger Lift was based off one simple idea; we love hamburgers.”

Previously, we spoke to the Burger Lift team about the genesis of their bun-saving device. Now, we talk to the team about the meat of the matter – burgers.

We love hamburgers
From the Burger Lift Kickstarter campaign

Meet the Team

In their Kickstarter video pitch to fund production of the Burger Lift, the team says their idea was based on one simple idea – “we love hamburgers.”

In a March interview, Best Burger Review, asked them about that. Their hamburger passion is clear.

The Burger Lift Team
The Burger Lift Team: Matt, Jasmine and Mike

Matt Hureau, is a middle school teacher in the Bronx. He came up with the Burger Lift concept. Growing up, Matt says his main exposure to burgers was McDonald’s and his Dad’s grilled burgers, which he apologetically said resembled hockey pucks.

Matt — My real love for burgers began when I moved to New York 12 years ago, and I discovered places like Corner Bistro and Shake Shack. From there, I expanded my horizons and started regularly visiting some of the top New York burger places with a few friends. Living in the city and without our own outdoor space, opportunities to grill are few and far between, although we did invest in a grill pan that does a solid, if not spectacular, job.

Matt met Jasmine Katatikarn 15 years ago at at Vassar College. She is the lead Burger Lift designer. By day, she’s an animation artist on movies (Ice Age Series, Rio Series, Epic…). She’s also married to Matt.

Jasmine — I like the adventure of trying different burgers. Burgers are a very simple straight forward idea and it’s the little things that can just make it that much better – the choice of the cheese, the type of meat… the type of bun!  We also enjoy experimenting with our own burgers in the comfort of home…” Jasmine echoes Matt’s lament about lack of outdoor space, “but we do our best!,” she said.

Jasmine brought fellow animation artist, Mike Tanzillo into the burger Lift project. Mike is in charge of production; translating the Burger Lift designs into a real-world product. His first love is the home cooked burger.

Mike — I love playing with the flavors and getting everything right. From the grill marks, to the toppings, to the cooking temperature. Nothing says summer, friends, and relaxation to me quite like putting some burgers on the grill.


Burger
 Favorites and Fantasies

BBR: What is your favorite burger? 

Matt — I really love In-N-Out.  I’ve been known to search locations pretty much anytime I’m anywhere near the west coast.

Jasmine –I have a secret love for a juicy lamb burger with feta – I know, it’s not the traditional choice (perhaps this should go down in the embarrassed to admit section).

Mike — You can’t beat a burger at a summer cookout. It could be the greatest Michelin rated restaurant in the world and I will prefer a simple burger off the grill outside with friends and family any day!


BBR: What’s the Best Burger in your current city (NYC) 

Matt — I’ve only had it once, but the Bash Burger* at Lure Fishbar is amazing.  I definitely need to get back there. (*The Bash Burger isn’t on the menu, so ask for it).

JasmineLa Esquina NYC. They have a great juicy burger – and what makes it even better is that they top it with fresh avocado!

MikeThe Spotted Pig

 

BBR: Which burger is on your bucket list?

Matt — I’m not sure about bucket list, but I’ve been meaning to try the Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern for a while now.

Jasmine –Every burger I haven’t eaten yet!

MikeHoleman & Finch Public House Burger in Atlanta.  I have heard enough legends about that place that I need to try it.

 

BBR: What burger do you love but are embarrassed to admit?

Mike — There is no such thing as a burger I am embarrassed to eat!

Matt — I’m with Mike. No shame in my game… Give me a burger and I’ll happily eat it!

Jasmine — Agreed.  You put meat (even veggie), cheese, tomatoes, and lettuce on a bun and it’s pretty hard not to eat it.

 

The Kickstart

With just a bit more than a week to go with their Kickstarter fundraising, the Burger Lift  has 125 backers and is almost 70% funded.  However, Kickstarter is all-or-nothing. If you want to see the Burger Lift become a reality, they need to reach their goal of $10,001 by April 14. Pledges start at a dollar, but the more you pledge, the better the swag.

Burger Lift
Save the bun. Elevate your burger.

You can have your very own Burger Lift (and a koozie) for $20, but you can get double the deal for a mere $8 more – Two Burger Lifts and two koozies, for $28. Check out the Burger Lift Kickstarter campaign and pledge today. Some pledge packages are limited, so don’t miss out.

World Burger Champ – The Interview

Word Burger Champ: 2013, 2014… and Counting

Note: Wade Fortin, won the 2013 and 2014 World Burger Championship, in conjunction with the World Food Championships.

Fortin has more than 15 years in the kitchen, including serving as an executive chef for the food service company, Aramark, and executive chef at Galway Arms, (featuring Celtic Fusion cuisine) in Chicago. According to his bio, as well as burgers, he also has “a love for competition BBQ.”

Wade Fortin - Facebook
Wade Fortin,World Burger Champ [from Facebook]
Second City Smoke is Fortin’s competition BBQ Team, started in August 2011 by Fortin and his co-pitmaster, Andrew Wiegand. Unfortunately, this means there is no burger joint or fancy grill where one can sit down and order Fortin’s supreme burgers.

Fortin first qualified to compete in the World Burger Championship in 2013 when he won the Bull Burger Battle – Chicago. Since he won the 2013 world title, he was invited to compete again.

After his first win, Fortin created the website World Burger Champ. On the site, he says planning and timing are key at the event. For example, the grills are often different from the ones competitors use in their everyday life (thus the need to be mindful of heat and cooking times). Other than that, it is all about a superlative burger. Creativity does not count. The burger has to look awesome, and every bit has to be perfect.

“The burger blend is only one element of a winning combination” — Wade Fortin

Among Fortin’s recipes on the site are tips, like Top Five Mistakes When Making Burgers. The meat is important, (Fortin uses a mix of brisket, chuck, and short rib), and a thumbprint in the patty keeps it from bulging in the middle.

The World Burger Championship was one cook-off event at the World Food Championships. Nearly 50 cooks qualified for the event earlier in the year by winning burger battles around the country.

The Interview

World Food Championship:

What was your signature burger for this 2014?

The El Jefe, a Chipotle stuffed ribeye steak burger with agave-glazed bacon, roasted corn pico de gallo, an avocado aioli, Chihuahua cheese and a picante ketchup on a brioche bun with a fried tortilla garnish.

Who else was on the Second City Smoke team? What were their roles?

My teammate is Andrew Wiegand. We work together and split the tasks for the competition, and also develop and create the burger concepts we enter.

Are you tweaking anything for next year’s competition?

We will take our notes on how this years competition went and try to improve on areas that we thought we could have done better. The WFC won’t release the information until next fall as far as what the structure or infused rounds will be so we will have to wait to come up with our plan of attack.

BBQ:

You are a competition BBQ guy. What prompted you to compete in burger cook offs?

We never really intended to do burger cook offs, and it was totally random that we got a call from an organizer of one of the Bull Burger Battles trying to fill their competition. We got the call on a Tuesday for the a competition on the following Saturday. We came up with a concept, practiced it on that Friday and then went to the Burger Battle the next day, won and then the rest is history.

The 2nd and 3rd place winners were also BBQ people. Do you feel that being a pitmaster gives one an advantage in burger making? What’s the connection?

I feel that a BBQ team has real time competition experience and is used to time constraints. This gives them a huge advantage over say a restaurant cook or a home cook.

Burgers:

You said you recommend 75-80% meat/ 25-20% fat, but which cuts do you prefer?

We use a blend of Ribeye and chuck for the competition, but I have had success with brisket point and short rib.

Do you always use the same meat blend, if possible?

When I’m at home I’ll use a bunch of blends trying to see if there is on better than the ribeye, but usually I’ll always go with the ribeye for competitions. The burger blend is only one element of a winning combination. A great burger has to be well-balanced and not have one element over power the other. I want my blend to have great texture and moisture.

General:

Are you still executive chef at Galway Arms, or just at Aramark?

Currently I am the Food Service Director for Aramark at Nuveen Investments.

Just for Fun:

What is your best hamburger memory?

Winning my first world title.

What is your favorite burger? 

As of today it’s the double double animal style from In and Out, although some of the creations at Umami Burger are really good.

What is on your burger bucket list?

To eat at Richard Blaze’s Flip Burger, to open a Burger Boutique of my own and to keep winning world championships.

What burger do you love but are embarrassed to admit?

Once in a blue moon I’ll crave a Big Mac.

What are some Chicago burgers that folks should try?
Au Cheval has a burger that is simply sublime. The El Jefe was inspired by the Hombre Burger at Revolution Brew Pub.

Anything you’d like to say or add about burgers?
I’d just like to say that I look forward to competing at the WFC again and trying to become the three-time world champ. I guess you could call it a “three meat”. I’m also in the process of developing a brand new food blog. It will be all about my passion for cooking and eating, and should be out by the first of February.


 

Read This: How Fortin Won, 2014 World Burger Championship
Fortin’s 2013 Winner, Recipe