Maiale Deli, a small eatery on Lancaster Pike that’s known for making terrific homemade pork sausages, won best hamburger at the Delaware Burger Battle – again! This is the second time in three years that Maiale came away with the blue ribbon and the “People’s Choice” for best burger at the annual gastro fest on August 26th at Cauffiel House in Wilmington.
Maiale’s Mexicano burger – with fire roasted poblanos, cilantro and cumin – was super tasty and had a slight kick to it. “We really try not to do too much. We really try to make the beef the showcase,” said Billy Rawstrom, the owner-chef of Maiale. “We freshly ground our beef, created some nice seasonings, and then topped each burger with chihuahua cheese, pickled onion and chipotle.”
The People’s Choice award is based on the number of tickets patrons put in a restaurant’s vote jar. The goal is to get as many burgers into as many mouths as possible. That was Rawstrom’s focus this year and the last time he won the top prize in 2015. But in 2016 Rawstrom pursued a more complex recipe, which ultimately affected his ability to satisfy the hungry. “Last year I did something a little more intricate, and it took a lot of time. So when I was trying to get the burgers out, it was a lot slower. So that cost me.”
Not surprisingly, Maiale Deli also placed in the Best Alternative Burger (no beef) category this year, taking 2nd place with a pork creation. First place went to Grub Burger Bar (Concord Mall) and their Jive Turkey burger.
Congratulations to Platinum Dining Group’s Redfire Grill, who won the Critics Choice (judge’s favorite) award for Best Burger with their Maple-pepper-lacquered bacon burger with aged Cabot cheddar and house made Thousand Island dressing. TSD saw several folks coming back to Redfire for seconds who were happy to wait until a fresh batch of burgers were pulled off the grill.
It’s impossible to delve into even the smallest of burger wedges at each of 18 restaurants. But trust me, they all offered mouth-watering creations – one with baby arugula and brie cheese, another with a butcher’s blend of brisket, short rib and chuck on top of a burger slathered in bourbon brown sugar bacon jam.
And the weather was fabulous this year, maybe a bit too enticing for some with a healthy appetite who showed up to buy tickets but were turned away. “You know, we have to have enough bathrooms, food and soft drinks for everyone – but there’s always enough beer!” laughed Delaware Burger Battle organizer JulieAnne Cross. “This kind of weather really brings people out,”she said.
The Burger Battle supported two beneficiaries this year – the Emmanuel Dining Room at the Ministry of Caring as well as the Delaware ProStart Program, which is in 18 public schools in the state and is administered by the Delaware Restaurant Association. The ProStart curriculum teaches high school students culinary and management skills needed for a career in the restaurant and foodservice industry. Swallowing a bite of a juicy, spicy burger from Brew HaHa, Cross quipped, “If you’re in culinary, you’re never out of a job, and you’re never hungry!”