Frank Bonanno still spends most of his time in the kitchen, cooking, hanging out with his chefs and, when the moods strikes, engaging them in battle -- in this case, a burger battle. Yesterday, Bonanno, who owns Mizuna, Bones, Luca d'Italia, Osteria Marco, Lou's Food Bar, Bonanno Brothers Pizzeria, Wednesday's Pie, Russell's Smokehouse, Green Russell and Vesper Lounge, corralled several of the chefs from Vesper, Mizuna, Luca and Bones into the Vesper kitchen -- and challenged them to eat a Juicy Lucy burger, a two-patty bomb encased with melted cheese that allegedly originated at Matt's Bar in Minneapolis.
"The idea of the Juicy Burger was inspired by our sous chef at Mizuna, Danika Batcher, who's from Minneapolis and started making the burger for staff family meal," says Lauren Hendrick, the PR and marketing coordinator of Bonanno Concepts. "Frank loves them and makes them at home with his two boys, and it was such a hit that we put the burger on the Vesper Lounge menu over the weekend."
And then Bonanno issued the burger challenge to six of his chefs, the results of which he videotaped (see below). The winner, Adam Devers, a saute cook at Mizuna, managed to shove the seventeen-ounce burger, topped with lettuce, four tomatoes and a swarm of white onions, down his throat in 39 seconds. And word has it, says Hendrick, "that Adam went and ate more after he won."
And starting today, if you can down that burger in less time that Devers, whose plate was nearly naked by the time he finished, you'll get the burger for free, a Vesper Lounge T-shirt, a shot of whatever liquid asset you want and bragging rights. If you don't beat the 39-second record, you'll have to pony up the $14 for the burger -- and then likely fork over another fiver for Pepto.