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Matthew McConaughey Just Won A Celebrity Burger Showdown, Here’s What He Made

May 28 was a big day for burger lovers.

In celebration of National Burger Day, Off the Menu, the LA-based food discovery app, teamed up with Uber Eats to host The Burger Showdown. The challenge paired more than 60 celebrities including Matthew McConaughey, Paris Hilton, and Dwyane Wade with restaurants in 10 cities to create their ultimate burger, available exclusively on Uber Eats. Even better, the Showdown supported Frontline Foods, a grassroots organization that supports local restaurants while feeding frontline workers and impacted communities..

Each pairing created a video sharing their burger inspiration and recipe, which lived on theburgershowdown.com for fans and burger lovers to watch and vote on their favorite before ordering on Uber Eats from May 28-31. 

And, the winners are in: 

Best Burger (US):

The Best Burger in the US was awarded to The Jacobite, made by Scottish actor Sam Heughan and Boston’s The Haven. It’s made with a chuck beef patty smothered in bacon-infused marmalade, pickle sauce, arugula, tomatoes, Huntsman cheese, deep fried onions, and a hand-cut french fry wedge served on a milk bun to create a deviously rich burger. 

Best Burger (Canada):

Photo Courtesy of Off The Menu

The Best Canadian Burger was won by the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Mitch Marner and The Burger’s Priest. The Mitch One-Six Burger kept it simple, with a smashed patty, cheddar cheese, thick cuts of bacon, lettuce, tomato, ketchup, the famed High Priest Sauce, and a classic, soft house bun. Simple, to the point, and dependable. 

Most Creative Collaboration:

Photo Courtesy of Off The Menu

The winners of the Most Creative Collaboration, Shay Mitchell and NYC’s Flip Sigi, created the Filipino-inspired Shay Sigi Burger, which featured a three-meat burger that bonded longanisa, ground beef, and bacon. Seared on a hot pan, the amalgamation of a patty was topped with pickled onions, tomato, lettuce, a homemade banana ketchup, and a pan de sal bun.

Best Plant-Based Burger:

Photo Courtesy of Off The Menu

Max Greenfield and Chicago’s Busy Burger’s collab, the Busy Max Veggie Delight, won the Best Plant-Based Burger presented by Lightlife. Here’s the juicy deets: Two Lightlife Plant-Based Burgers topped with pepper jack cheese and cut with guacamole and sauteed veggies, were topped with butter leaf lettuce, tomato, pickles, and Busy Burger’s signature Busy Sauce. 

The Burger Showdown Hall of Fame:

Photo Courtesy of Off The Menu

Rounding out the awards by being inducted into The Burger Showdown Hall of Fame is Matthew McConaughey and Aaron Franklin of Austin’s Loro, who created a burger for those who hate when their patty slides out the back (or “slidie-out-backie,” as deemed by Mr. McConaughey) when bitten. Dubbed the “And…” burger, it is made with a brisket and chuck patty and brioche buns, then stacked with double-cut smoked bacon, American cheese, pickled jalapeños, butter leaf lettuce, thin-sliced tomato, mustard, and a jalapeño aioli.

The Burger Showdown was truly something to behold this year. Make sure to peep the builds of all the burgers mentioned, and more here.

Keep an eye on @offthemenu and @ubereats to see what they’re cooking up for their next tasty event, The Wing Showdown.

Created in partnership with Off The Menu.

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Restaurants

Chuck E. Cheese Files For Bankruptcy In Hopes To Survive The Pandemic

After early reports from the Wall Street Journal that Chuck E. Cheese was looking to file for bankruptcy, the entertainment and restaurant chain has officially done so.

Photo: Mike Mozart on Flickr

A press release from CEC Entertainment, Inc., the parent company to the beloved chain, announced the entry into Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. It hopes that in doing so, the company can restructure itself to survive the economic hit that the pandemic has levied.

Chuck E. Cheese had been doing okay before the pandemic, as AP reports that store sales went up 3% during 2019. However, the strain of staying closed during the pandemic was a tough pill to swallow for both Chuck E. Cheese and the restaurant industry in general.

Chuck E. Cheese had begun to reopen locations that were closed due to coronavirus, with 266 currently open and more to follow in the coming weeks. It’s hoped that these locations, plus the others Chuck E. Cheese plans to reopen, will stay that way throughout the bankruptcy process.

Franchised locations of Chuck E. Cheese aren’t affected by the bankruptcy filing.

Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows Chuck E. Cheese to keep running operations while restructuring its organization and financial model to get back on its feet. However, part of the bankruptcy plan, which is approved by a court, may include liquidating some of the company’s assets. This may mean that stores will close in the future, but it’s possible that won’t be the case.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Chuck E. Cheese was looking for up to $200 million in loans to stay afloat earlier in the month, which may be enough to restructure and prevent store closures. We won’t know if that’s the case for sure, however, until the bankruptcy court approves a final plan that allows Chuck E. Cheese to emerge from bankruptcy.

The hope is, though, that Chuck E. Cheese won’t have to go the way of Souplantation, who closed all of their locations and began liquidating all of their assets earlier this year.

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Restaurants Sweets

IHOP Adds Sweet & Spicy Syrup: The First New Flavor In 30 Years

As long as I’ve been dining at IHOP, I’ve only seen a select handful flavors of syrup available for patrons to drench their pancakes in: Strawberry, Blueberry, Butter Pecan, and Original. Sometimes there’s also sugar-free, but we don’t talk about that.

For the first time in 30 years, IHOP has added a new flavor of syrup for patrons to enjoy.

Maple Sweet & Spicy Syrup is the newest offering from the chain, created to compliment IHOP’s new Kickin’ Maple Chicken BreakFEAST. It derives its heat from ancho, jalapeno and red chili pepper flakes.

The new entree features Buttermilk crispy chicken breast, drizzled with the new syrup. It also includes four strips of hickory-smoked bacon, two eggs, crispy hash browns, toast, and two buttermilk pancakes.

The new syrup will be available upon request at participating IHOP locations nationwide. As someone who definitely loves a little heat in his breakfast, this is a definitely must try for me.

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Restaurants

Souplantation Is Auctioning Off All Their Restaurant Equipment For As Little As $1

Fans of Souplantation, the buffet-style salad bar and restaurant, were hit with devastating news early in May this year with the announcement that the chain would close permanently due to revenue loss from the pandemic.

We discovered this week, that many of the 97 restaurants have begun auctioning off their kitchen equipment and furniture at an insanely reduced price.

Within these auctions, done individually by restaurants, one could find meat slicers, racks, utensils, and even ovens for a fraction of what they would have sold for at market value.

For example, a Double Deep Fryer can cost upwards of $10,000 to $20,000. A recent closed bid sold one for $585. In that same auction, an entire buffet bar sold for a ridiculous $1.

Sure you might get into a bidding war, but chances are you won’t come out empty-handed if interested.

For those looking to stock their kitchens with some new, slightly used gear, or simply looking for an inexpensive keepsake from Souplantation, and sister chain Sweet Tomatoes, you might want to check out these auctions. A majority of them will end within the next week.

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Celebrity Grub Restaurants

The Story Behind Ja Rule’s Comically Bad Greek Restaurant Commercial

Ja Rule image adapted from WebSummit on Flickr.

Recently, a video featuring rapper Ja Rule advertising for a Greek restaurant has made its way around the internet. The video, which has garnered over 3 million views on Twitter to date, shows Ja Rule going off for one of his favorite local restaurants, Papa Cristo’s.

For those unaware, Papa Cristo’s is a marketplace and a restaurant that’s been at the heart of the Greek community in Los Angeles for over 70 years. The owner, Chrys Chrys, is a local legend that fires up lamb chops, grilled octopus, and many other Greek specialties hard to find at most other restaurants.

While the viral video itself is mostly getting ripped by Twitter users for the editing (Ja Rule dancing in front of a green screen and slapping the owner’s head on some stock footage), the story behind it is actually pretty intriguing. Foodbeast reached out to Papa Cristo’s to learn more about the video and found that it was part of both a TV show and just general support Ja Rule wanted to give.

According to Papa Cristo’s, Ja Rule created the segment for something called “Pitch Perfect,” a show he created as part of TBS’s “Celebrity Showoff” series. Ja Rule and Chrys chat for a while before coming up with the ad, which the rapper hopes to use to bring light to Papa Cristo’s as well as supporting local restaurants in general.

The full clip will air on June 23rd on TBS, but you can view part of the show in the video above. Papa Cristo’s also mentioned that Ja Rule is helping to raise money for No Kid Hungry alongside supporting family-run local spots.

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Alcohol Restaurants What's New

White Claw Pizza Arrives At Blaze Pizza For One Day Only

It looks like White Claw Pizza is now a thing, and while my eyes are rolling, the lover of all things pizza within in me has to admit my curiosity is piqued.

Love it or hate it, the popular alcoholic selzter is getting its very own limited-time pizza for one day only.

Blaze Pizza will offer an exclusive pizza with a crust made with Mango White Claw in place of filtered water at more than 40 of their locations across the United States.

Since Blaze is known best for their build your own pizza model, Blaze executive chef Brad Kent recommends a few toppings to pair with the White Claw Crust. This includes the signature red sauce, shredded mozzarella, pepperoni, roasted red pepper, jalapeno, pineapple, and a fresh arugula finish after its done baking.

You can find this pizza only on Thursday, June 18 at participating Blaze pizza locations and will only be offered as a dine-in or takeout experience. You will not be able to order them through delivery apps.

Those interested can peep the stores serving up these White Claw crusts. When you get there just ask for a White Claw crust as your choice.

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Health News Restaurants

Amazon Studios Donates $1 Million to Jon & Vinny’s to Help Feed Those in Need

Photo Provided By: Omari Allen

As COVID’s curve on the world gradually flattens out, we’re seeing slow beginnings towards normalcy. Maybe a different normality than we’re accustomed to, but living life again nevertheless. It’s part of the human spirit; rather than simply conform, we’ve chosen to confront. This strength has manifested in a multitude of ways, from the courage of essential workers, to local farms helping to distribute food, even the spike in video chat apps is an indicator of how we come together in challenging times. 

Joining the fray, Amazon Studios has announced that it will be donating $1 Million to the award-winning Los Angeles-based restaurant group, Jon & Vinny’s. Existing well beyond their two brick & mortar locations in Brentwood & Fairfax, Jon & Vinny’s Joint Venture Restaurant Group also encompasses Caramelized Productions, their full-service catering company, as well as a slew of popular LA staples. Suffice to say, with Amazon Studios’ donation, Jon & Vinny’s is certainly capable of making a positive impact. 

Additionally, donations will be made to other local restaurants. The ultimate goal of the initiative is to work with local businesses in preparing and delivering meals to No Kid Hungry, Off Their Plate, the Los Angeles Mission and the Motion Picture & Television Fund. Through this social outreach, those in need will receive fresh meals prepared by talented chefs and contributing local restaurants will have financial support to continue serving the community. With over 10 farms and nearly 10 more businesses contributing to this initiative, everyone involved stands to feel real support during this time.  

jon & vinny's

“This unprecedented crisis has impacted all of us in immeasurable ways, and it’s more important than ever that we all do our part to give back at every level — and particularly to our own community,” said Jennifer Salke, Head of Amazon Studios. “At Amazon Studios and Prime Video, we’re truly honored to be able to show our support to the community that has always supported us, and to team up with Jon and Vinny’s to provide food to those who so desperately need it along with a lifeline to local businesses.” 

To further reinforce its support, Amazon Studios has converted its “For Your Consideration” billboards into “For Your Community,” with each highlighting COVID-related non-profit organizations.  These billboards are now live across Los Angeles. To learn more about Amazon’s efforts to support communities and non-profits, click here.

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#foodbeast Culture FOODBEAST Opinion Restaurants The Katchup

5 New Things You’ll See At Buffets As They Re-Open

The bounty of a buffet has always been the crux of its appeal: all-you-can-eat, get your money’s worth, it’s the American way. Whether it be the high end flourish of a Las Vegas buffet or the comforts of a local Hometown Buffet or Golden Corral, folks have always used the linchpin of a seemingly unending feast to maximize their dining experience. Yet 2020’s pandemic has crippled the restaurant industry, and with the restrictive nature of the new norms, the buffet concept has fallen victim to it.

With social distancing and forcibly limited dining capacities being implemented as the U.S. slowly reopens different segments of business, the future that buffets face has been bleak. Dwindling interest among millennials pre-pandemic already had buffets trying to steer themselves into relevancy by experimenting with different models. But a covid-19 reality these days has universally constrained restaurants, forcing them to take-out and delivery options only, a pivot that doesn’t fit the model of a buffet at all, though places like Golden Corral and Old Country buffet have turned to them for their survival.

However, the challenges the pandemic has brought on buffets have been insurmountable to some, namely the company Garden Fresh Restaurants, owner of AYCE salad bar concepts Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes, who recently filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

In the latest episode of Foodbeast’s The Katchup Podcast, hosts Elie Ayrouth and Geoff Kutnick, along with myself, wax poetic and eulogize just how much Souplantation meant to them, while also exploring the immediately unfortunate prospects buffets have post-pandemic.

Though Souplantaion and Sweet Tomatoes did not decide to give it a go at pivoting to new business models to keep afloat, other buffets have turned to such alternatives, all with varying results. The following are a number of adjustments they’ve done just to survive. Which begs the question: Would Garden Fresh Restaurants have been able to stick around if they tried to maneuver with the times as well?

Cafeteria-Style

Big buffet chain, Golden Corral, has been slowly reopening locations across the country with a new cafeteria-style service model. So think restaurant employees directly serving diners menu items at what otherwise would have been various buffet stations. Also, stanchions are set up as a perimeter around buffet areas, with floor markers indicating where customers can stand safely away from one another. This model also eliminates the prospect of multiple diners touching utensils at once.

Take-Out

Take-out has been the new standard these past couple of months for restaurants to survive. A reliance on third-party delivery apps and their exorbitant fees have proved to be difficult for restaurants to deal with, yet has been enough to keep them afloat, a conundrum in itself that’s brought on separate ethical discussions on the business practices of these apps. Curbside pick-up has also been a helpful option for diners to enjoy their offerings through modified menus designed to coincide with the efficiency of the pick-up.

Family-Style

In this service model, servers treat customers to an “endless buffet” from a selection of menu items. What immediately comes to mind to compare to this would be Brazilian steakhouses, also known as churrascarrias, such as Fogo De Chao, who serve a constant of meats until the diner indicates to stop via a red coaster flipped up. Turning it over to the green side tells servers that they’re welcome to offer more meats to the customer.

Different Payment Options

Before the pandemic, Golden Corral tried to address the waning interest millenials had in buffets by dabbling with different pay systems, namely dropping the pay-one-price model. Further, it was being tested where customers pay at their table, while also being offered three buffet options: soup and salad only, a single trip to the food bar, or unlimited trips. Could experimenting with different pay systems work even better in post-pandemic dining?

Stay As-Is

Fifteen locations of Golden Corral have opted to stick with the old service model. They plan on adhering to the traditional buffet format with an implementation of rigorous cleaning standards and other precautions such as adding hand sanitizing stations and checking diners’ temperatures before being seated. It’s worth noting that 12 of the 15 locations sticking to the original buffet model are in Florida.