Champion of the grill

Southampton’s Steam Pub to complete in ninth annual Philadelphia Burger Brawl on Sept. 15

Some serious beef: On Sept. 15, the mouth-watering aroma of juicy, grilled burgers will fill the air of South Philadelphia as 60 restaurant owners compete in the ninth annual Philadelphia Burger Brawl. Source: In Between Rivers

On Sunday, Sept. 15, the mouth-watering aroma of juicy, grilled burgers will fill the air of South Philadelphia as 60 restaurant owners compete in the ninth annual Philadelphia Burger Brawl. Taking place at a new location, the Marine Parade Ground at Navy Yard Philadelphia, more than 3,000 attendees can enjoy all-you-can-eat samples and vote for their favorite at the region’s largest food competition.

Among the competitors are Martin Hoeger, owner of the Southampton-based Steam Pub (606 2nd Street Pike). After earning an “honorable mention” the past few years, Hoeger is returning with a vengeance, ready to up the ante and earn those coveted “burger bragging rights.”

“We got it down to the wire. Never won the whole thing, though,” he said. “So we want that top dog prize.”

Previously, Hoeger entered Steam Pub’s signature Wass Burger – an 8-ounce patty on a brioche bun, topped with lettuce, tomato, onions, crumpled bacon, American cheese and chipotle aioli. Though it won an award from Bucks Happening, it simply didn’t cut it at the Burger Brawl.

This year, he plans to make the restaurant’s Ultimate Breakfast Burger – a masterpiece comprised of two pieces of fresh toast with an 8-ounce patty in between, topped with candied bacon, American cheese and a fried egg, and finished with a drizzle of maple syrup.

“It’s one of those burgers you eat and you need a nap afterward,” Hoeger said. “We felt that just putting the same burger in year after year was getting boring. We’ve got about seven great burgers on our menu right now, so we figured we’d spread the love around.”

Steam Pub will be battling against restaurants, eateries and bars from top food neighborhoods and towns, including Queen Village, East Passyunk Avenue, South Street, Midtown Village, Northern Liberties, Ardmore, University City, Kensington and more.

In addition to the “People’s Choice Winner,” all will compete for the coveted trophy and title of “Judge’s Choice.” Judges will select first-, second- and third-place prizes. The esteemed panel of judges will include more than 40 members of local and regional press, members of Philadelphia’s restaurant community, representatives from the Mayor’s office and the Philadelphia School District, local celebrities and local tourism officials.

New for 2019, local influencers will select the top winner (plus two runners-up) for “Instagrammer’s Choice,” which factors in Instagram-worthy looks and presentation, and must-try taste and flavor.

Burger Brawl will also feature the Cut Throat Cocktail Competition, presented by Jim Beam. All participating restaurants are invited to compete, showing off their creative use of Jim Beam Black, a premium 86-proof, double-aged bourbon that boasts smooth caramel and warm oak notes. This competition is set to take place in the Jim Beam Bourbon Lounge, with Jim Beam representatives selecting the winner.

While enjoying burgers and cocktails, attendees can rock out on the Marine Parade grand lawn with music from Beasley Radio Group’s family of stations, with talent on hand from 93.3 WMMR, 95.7 Ben FM, 102.9 WMGK, 97.5 Fanatic and WXTU. Philly Chit Chat photographer HughE Dillon will be present to document the day.

All proceeds from Philadelphia Burger Brawl go directly to The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia. Specifically, event proceeds support hardware needs to implement math and reading literacy programs in underserved elementary schools. Since its inception in 2011, the event has raised more than $283,000 for The Fund. Past proceeds have helped fund the purchase of Chromebooks and associated equipment in many area schools.

For 2019, Philadelphia Burger Brawl is hoping to aid in the funding of projects that total nearly $130,000. Examples include implementing blended learning in reading and math, increasing student collaboration in all subjects, expanding coding, problem-solving and using G Suite.

“We are ready to bring on the sizzle as we help feed literacy and support underserved elementary schools in Philadelphia,” said Rob Wasserman, volunteer organizer and founder. “This year, we are proud to have support from 60-plus restaurants that will bring their culinary talents and passion to the Navy Yard. Be prepared to come hungry as they wow us again at the grills. While nothing beats walking away with Burger Brawl bragging rights, we are all actually winners as we raise tens of thousands of dollars together for an amazing cause near and dear to our hearts.” ••

If you go…

The ninth annual Philadelphia Burger Brawl takes place Sunday, Sept. 15, at the Marine Parade Ground at Navy Yard Philadelphia. VIP gates open at 1 p.m. and general admission opens at 2 p.m.

Tickets are on sale now at Cost is $45 for advance general admission ($50 at the door), which includes samples and one free cocktail. VIP tickets are on sale for $100 with perks like early entry, a VIP lounge and unlimited drinks. Children under 10 are free, no ticket required. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Must be 21 with identification to drink. Parking is free. Event is rain or shine.

Samantha Bambino can be reached at