BEST-DONE BURGER

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Phillip Valys Staff writer

Restau­rants duel for your fa­vor in beefy bat­tle. It might get bloody. And juicy.

Michael Buchin­ski’s ham­burger, Peanut But­ter Jelly Time, won last year’s au­di­ence fa­vorite at the Riverwalk Burger Bat­tle for its child­like al­lure: peanut but­ter, jam and can­died ba­con on a se­same-seed bun.

Buchin­ski is the man be­hind the menu at Brgr Stop, an18-month-old restau­rant in Co­conut Creek, which spe­cial­izes in throw­back com­fort food such as deep-fried peanut but­ter balls, Lucky Charms milk­shakes and Cap’n Crunch-dusted chicken fin­gers.

When the Fort Laud­erdale burger show­down re­turns to­day toHuizenga Park, Buchin­ski will vie for top beef again with a dif­fer­ent, brand-new burger. It’s called La Loca, a deep-fried patty topped with crushed Pep­padew aioli and smoky ghost­pep­per jack cheese and rubbed with a gua­jillo glaze. The se­cret in­gre­di­ent? Crushed Spicy Sweet Chili Dori­tos.

“This burger came to me inmy sleep,” Buchin­ski says. “It’s crazy. It’s out there, just like ev­ery­thing else in the restau­rant.”

At the eighth an­nual Riverwalk Burger Bat­tle, which co­in­cides with Na­tional Burg­erMonth, Brgr Stop’s La Loca will join en­tries fromAmer­i­can So­cial, Big City Tav­ern, Burger Craze, Hard Rock Café and Tucker Duke’s Lunch­box. Brgr Stop will also be de­fend­ing its ti­tle against com­pe­ti­tion new­com­ers Pin­cho Fac­tory, Metro Diner, Ru­mors Bar andGrill, Pel­i­can Grand Beach Re­sort, Mar­gar­i­taville, Bokam­pers, Red Rock Oa­sis andMa­rina 84 Sports Bar and Grill.

Fewer restau­rants are com­pet­ing this year— 14 in­stead of 16— Burger Bat­tle or­ga­nizer Cristina Hud­son says.

“It­was burger over­load [last year],” Hud­son says. “Say you took one bite of each burger, times 16. That would be like eat­ing three full-size burg­ers, and that’s a lot. Sowe’re do­ing it smaller, leaner and bet­ter.”

Each burger will be as­sayed by vis­i­tors and a panel of judges, in­clud­ing lo­cal chefs Jen Knox, Gina San­so­nia, Ju­dith Able, BretHauser, Camilo Cuar­tas and Peter Far­rand. Con­tenders keep their con­coc­tions un­der wraps un­til the main event, when they’ll un­veil the cre­ation that at­tempts to achieve the per­fect com­bi­na­tion of fla­vors. The big prize: a golden burger tro­phy.

Burger eaters will also have ac­cess to a french fry bar, three Jack­Daniel’s drink tick­ets and mu­sic fromthe Joe Fri­day Band.

“When a burger joint wins, and you see that tro­phy, it gives th­ese restau­rants a nice nod, an ac­knowl­edge­ment of suc­cess,” Hud­son says. “And for some­one who sees the tro­phy while din­ing, they’ll think, ‘Oh, wow, I’m in a good place.’ ”

The Riverwalk Burger Bat­tle VIII will take place 4-7 p.m. to­day atHuizenga Park, 32 E. LasOlas Blvd., Fort Laud­erdale. Ad­mis­sion is $45, $125 for VIP, which in­cludes 3:30 p.m. early ac­cess. Call 954-468-1541, ext. 205 or go to GoRiver­walk.com.

PHILLIP VALYS/STAFF

The burger show­down re­turns to­day to Huizenga Park in Fort Laud­erdale.

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