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Burger Showdown returns to Curtis Hixon park May 17

Restaurants will be competing for bragging rights to the best burgers in Tampa during the “Burger Showdown” May 17 at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. Maiken Stefany of South Tampa, an event coordinator with EventFest Inc., said some of the proceeds will benefit The Tampa Riverwalk project. She said more than 10 restaurants are expected to participate in the second annual food event. “May is national burger month so we are sticking with that theme,” Stefany said. “Grilling is super popular in Florida. We think it’s a good time to kick off the grilling season.”
She said some of the participating restaurants this year include Beef O’ Brady’s, Irish 31 Pub House & Eatery, The Moon Under Water and Danny’s All American Diner & Dairy Bar. “We have a lot of new restaurants this year, which is exciting,” she said. “They do get really creative. I have seen all sorts of things including typical ingredients like bacon. I’ve seen pulled pork, pineapple, fried onion rings that go into it. I’ve seen stuffed burgers – everything you can imagine.” Stefany said the festivities will take place rain or shine from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the park, 600 N. Ashley Drive, Tampa. She said the celebrity judges this year include Corey Dylan, a radio host for 970 WFLA; former Tampa Bay Buccaneer and current sports radio host Ian Beckles of 620 WDAE; and Jeff Houck, food writer for The Tampa Tribune, and Steve Otto, Tribune columnist. The judges keep to a scoring rubric of 25 percent for originality, 25 percent for presentation and 50 percent for taste. Otto said he consider himself a “burgermeister,” which is one reason why he gravitates to this event every year. When it comes to the perfect burger, Otto doesn’t like asking the old Wendy’s classic commercial question, “Where’s the beef?” Last year he had a burger that, he said, went a foot high with no burger inside – just a garden. “I’ve noticed a lot of restaurants make burgers that don’t taste like burgers,” Otto said. “Burgers have become theme parks. You shouldn’t hide your burger. It needs to be thick, not one of those patties that can slip through the grill. Add a few grilled onions, a slice of Ruskin tomato, some American cheddar cheese, toasted bun – that’s it.” Last year, the winner was the Green Iguana with a burger of pulled pork, smoked cheese, fried sweet potato and a tempura-fried pickle atop a ˝-pound beef patty called the “Ala damn Bama Bourbon BBQ Burger.” General admission tickets to the 2013 Burger Showdown are $35 in advance and $45 on the day of the event. General admission tickets include unlimited sampling of burgers and deserts as well as a free drink ticket. VIP tickets are $75 in advance and include everything above as well as a cocktail reception in the VIP area from 6 to 9:30 p.m. featuring hors d’oeuvres and open bar. Beer and wine will be available for $5. For tickets and more information, visit burgershowdown.org.

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