Josh Ozersky Can't See the Burgers for the Stars

"It's a stretch to say that the bashes even exist in the hamburger universe, let alone being that universe's 'greatest spectacle.'"

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Josh "Mister Cutlets" Ozersky holds an English muffin–bunned mini burger from David Burke's Burke in the Box in this 2005 photo. [Photograph: Adam Kuban]

Josh "Mr. Cutlets" Ozersky files one of his typically loquacious missives about the Rachael Ray Burger Bash over at Time magazine. What is revealing about the piece is not how eloquently Ozersky makes his case—something he is able to do even when he has no real case—but that it exposes an undeniable fact: Ozersky is star-struck.

I am not just talking about his unrequited crush on Rachael Ray but also the fact that he seems in such awe of the rococo burger creations of some of America's top chefs. Creations that he would normally dismiss out of hand as self indulgent, bourgeois impostors. Yet the Big O feels compelled to state with no uncertainty:

"There is no greater spectacle in the hamburger universe than the annual Rachael Ray Burger Bash."

I am going to attempt to use Ozersky's words against him here.

A few weeks back our own J. Kenji Lopez-Alt quoted Ozersky thusly:

"You think you've made hamburgers at home? A hamburger you make at home is not really a hamburger. It's like making a home video and calling it a movie. A burger must exist in the public sphere."

I would argue the very same thing against the "hamburgers" served at the Burger Bash. They do not exist in the public sphere, many of the chef-participants don't even serve burgers on their restaurant menus (some of the chefs don't even have restaurants) And you can't even get into the bash unless you pony up a significant sum of money, which seems antithetical to the spirit of the hamburger. The spirit that Ozersky himself has done much to define.

Now I will admit that I didn't make it down to South Beach this year, but I have attended Burger Bashes before and I can't imagine that this one was much different, there are always traditional and non traditional burgers on offer. Yes, they are entertaining events, you will eat some tasty approximations of real hamburgers, and it is always nice to see celebrity chefs actually cooking something for a change. But to suggest that it took such events for everyone to figure out that the best burgers are the simplest and most elemental burgers seems rather dubious. Ozersky himself has known it all along, he literally wrote the book on the concept.

Until these events and/or the burgers cooked there become easily accessible to the public at large it's a stretch to say, using Ozersky's own logic, that the bashes really exist in the hamburger universe at all, let alone being that universe's "greatest spectacle."

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