Chicago's Best Burgers: 15 of Chicago's Top Chefs Compete in a Hamburger Showdown at Chicago Gourmet 2010.

The Great Hamburger Debate: Will we finally have a definitive answer?


What makes a great burger?  Is it the meat–grass fed or grain feed? Is it the toppings–bacon, plums, gourmet cheeses? Is it the infusions–or lack there of?  In Chicago, what makes a great burger has been argued ad-nauseum.  Names keep popping up:  There’s the fat and sassy Kuma burger (2900 W. Belmont Ave.) over-dressed for any occasion; There’s the highly touted M Burger (161 E. Huron), traditional, simple and reasonably priced; There’s the DMK burger–put together two steak guys, Michael Kormick and David Morton–and what do you get–DMK Burger Bar (2954 N. Sheffield Ave.) with burgers for $8 including toppings.  Other names include:  Hot Chocolate (1747 Damen) for burgers? Joe’s Seafood (60 E. Grand)–seafood and burgers–why not.

Is the $24 burger at Bull and Bear (431 N. Wells) better than the $2.65 hamburger (add 20 cents for the Cheezeborger) at Billy Goat lower level, 430 N. Michigan Ave. (and other locations).

Now, Chicago Gourmet 2010 has put the question to the test.  Fifteen of Chicago’s best chefs will be firing up their grills on the Harris Theater Rooftop overlooking Millennium Park for the HAMBURGER HOP–the kick off to Chicago Gourmet 2010 on Friday, September 24.

Look for some tough competition from the likes of NoMI who has been cited for their award-winning burgers in various competitions; from Sola’s Carol Wallzck  who says “I’m in it to win it,” along with Eddie Lakin, who put his TRU roots behind him to create “straight up, fast-food” at his Evanston Burger Shop.


The chefs will be starting from an even playing field with all meat supplied by the same purveyor–Allen Brothers Steaks. Each chef will
prepare their own unique take on a hamburger.

Here Come the Chefs:
John Coletta, cookbook author and chef at Quartino, (626 N. State) will be putting aside his pizza and small plates to create his best burger ever.


Meg Colleran-Sahs, Terzo Piano.  Meg Colleran-Sahs of Terzo Piano (inside the Modern Wing of Chicago’s Art Institute at159 E. Monroe) will be sharing her passion for organics originally fired up during her stint at Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley, California to create her dream burger.

Federico Comacchio chef at Phil Stefani’s Steakhouse (437 Rush) will be putting his love affair with red meat to the grilling test.

Radhika Desai, of popular bar and hotspot English (444 N. La Salle), will be out to prove her pub is the place to go to find the best burger.

Dirk Flanigan, from The Gage (24 S. Michigan Ave.), disagrees about where to find the best burger, he thinks his upscale restaurant/tavern can beat the competition.

Hometown guy, Kevin Hickey of Seasons at Four Seasons Hotel (120 E. Delaware Pl.) is inspired by travel.  Hickey says “if you want to make something, go to where it comes from.”  Since this chef comes from Chicago’s South Side it looks like he knows his burgers.

John Hogan, of Keefer’s (20 W. Kinzie) known for its award-winning steaks is a man who knows beef.

Ever since Stephanie Izard’s The Girl & The Goat (809 W. Randolph) opened in June of 2010, people have been going “ga ga” over her tasty creations.

Eddie Lakin, a former cook at TRU and Nacional 27 is now putting together “straight-up fast-food” at his burger place.

Edzo’s Burger Shop (1571 Sherman Ave., Evanston). This chef knows his burgers.


Named best chef for 2010 by Chicago Social Magazine, Ryan LaRoche, of Chicago’s treasured NoMI (800 N. Michigan Ave.) will be the one to beat at this cook-off.

Stephan Lawhorn, of Palmer Place (56 S. LaGrange Rd., La Grange) has a very personal relationship with the food and beer served at his popular suburban local.

Don’t be surprised if chef Chad Starling, of  aria, (200 N. Columbus Dr.) adds a French twist to his burgers.

Carol Wallack, of Sola (3868 N. Lincoln) makes no bones about it–she says about the competition–“I’m in it to win it.”  You can bet her Contemporary American style with a hint of Asian flavoring will serve her well.

Brian Wright, corporate chef for Rosebud Restaurants is opting for more red meat on the menu at his stable of Rosebud eateries.  Look for some especially hearty hamburgers from this chef who loves his beef.

Stu Zirin, half of the duo a the new Boystown Tex-Mex bar and restaurant, D.S. Tequila Company (3352 N. Halsted) is sure to have some culinary tricks to keep him going strong in the competition.

Judge for yourself.

WHAT:  Join the fun as the Bon Appétit Presents the Chicago Gourmet 2010 Hamburger Hop.

WHEN: Friday, September 24, from 6 to 9p.m.

WHERE: The Harris Theatre Rooftop in Millennium Park. 205 E. Randolph St.

TICKETS:  For Hamburger Hop are $75.00.  Participants must be 21 and older.  Go to Chicago Gourmet 2010.

WHO:  Chef Thomas Keller, will join the expert judging panel as a special guest judge for the Hamburger Hop. Keller, chef/owner of the renowned French Laundry and Per Se is the only American-born chef to hold multiple three-star ratings by the Michelin Guide. Along with five other prestigious judges from the culinary world, Keller will lend his palate and wealth of culinary experience to this showdown among 15 area chefs for the honor of best burger in town as they compete for the coveted prize.

ABOUT Chicago Gourmet 2010:  This is a 3-day event celebrating the City of Chicago’s finest in food and wine. It features over 150 chefs, food, wine, beer, tastings, seminars, book signings and more.  The event is one of the nation’s most anticipated culinary happenings.  September 24 through September 26. Millennium Park. Admission to the 3-day event $150.00. Chicago Gourmet 2010.

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  • Hi Carole,
    It should be Phil Stefani's Steakhouse, with an 'f', not Stephani's with a 'ph'.
    Appreciate the correction :)

  • In reply to alarrick:

    4 sure or is that for sure--will take care of it--one of my favs--sorry for the typo--I know better.

  • In reply to alarrick:

    Just figured out how I came up with the wrong spelling for Stefani's--it was on the press release--I will let them know.

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