Burgerfest 2015: Who's got the best burger in CZ?

Behind-the-scenes with Burgerfest founder, Zdeněk Střižek

It's just over two weeks until Burgerfest kicks off its 4th annual festival September 19-20 at the exhibition grounds in Prague's Holešovice district. Prague.TV speaks with Zdeněk Střižek, known by local media as “President of the Burgerfest,” for his take on what has become one of the biggest food festivals in the Czech Republic. Drawing crowds of 45,000 people last year and with the expectation of close to 50,000 attendees this year, Burgerfest 2015 will showcase the culinary skills of about 40 restaurants.

Zdeněk tells us why Burgerfest 2015 is unique. YouTube sensations, the BBQ Pit Boys, will show Czechs how “good ol' boys” grill their meat back in America while restaurants from across the Czech Republic will duel it out for the “best burger” title. Expect to taste burgers from Prague restaurants, including Aloha, Peter's Burger Pub, La Loca, Burger Bar and Koza Róza among others. Beyond the Czech Republic, there's even a Hungarian burger joint making the trip to Prague for the festival.

With their YouTube videos garnering over 70 million views and BBQ Pit Boy chapters springing up across Europe, the USA BBQ Pit Boys have inspired fans from Germany, Holland and Poland to attend Burgerfest Prague. The Weber Grill company will be on site for demonstrations of grilling meat, sauces and desserts and the American companies Jeep and Harley Davidson will demonstrate off-road cars and exhibit motorcycles. Jack Daniels will serve up drinks and a party atmosphere from a Jack Daniels truck with a fully-stocked bar. Burgerfest will donate a portion of the 50 CZK entrance fee to the Czech Club for Cystic Fibrosis.

Although Czech-style karbanátky (a Czech nickname for burgers) have been around for years, “four or five years ago was the boom of the burger in Prague,” Zdeněk says. As a man who spent eight years in the US, Zdeněk has been serving American-style burgers to Prague's carnivorous set at his popular Smíchov burger joint, Bezjment (pronounced “basement”) since 2010. Zdeněk's restaurant claims to bring a little piece of American culture to Prague, and, like America, he's confident that his burgers are among the best in the city. At least, that's what his customers say.

Once he realized American-style burgers would sell in the Czech Republic, Zdeněk dreamed up an end-of-summer festival to get the word about burgers to the general Czech public. “Now we have to show people how much money they can spend for the real thing. Not what's served up in fast-food chains. A real burger.” Still, Zdeněk says, the quality of the burger is more important to him than hosting what has become arguably the biggest burger festival in Central Europe.

Why is the most iconic American food symbol, the classic burger, a never-ending story? Zdeněk says, “You can have a variety of burgers – the buns, dough, the meat, the cheese, the sauces. Everybody tries to be creative. Sometimes it's good. Sometimes it's bad. You can do a fish burger, a game burger, an exotic meat burger, a vegetarian burger. You can do a lot of things.

If you think you've got the creativity and the grilling know-how to make a burger like the pros, register your team of four for this year's Amateur Chef Burger Battle. Send your team's name to marketing(at)burgerfest.cz by September 14. On September 19 from 3pm selected teams will battle it out on the exhibition grounds using a list of approved ingredients ranging from burger meat, salt and pepper and cheeses to a slew of more exotic ingredients.

For burger fans who also like to play, there will be a showcase of Jeeps and an on-site Jeep off-road polygon to try off-road driving with an instructor. Harley Davidson fans will have the chance to win a Harley 750 Street in a competition. Check the Burgerfest Facebook for HD competition details to be posted in the coming days. For those who come more for the party than the meat, there will be 12-14 local music bands, including the Hungarian Kiss Forever Band, a premiere cover-band for Kiss. If you're inclined to offer a hand on-site, respond to the #HELP Burgerfest posting on their Facebook site.

If you haven't experienced Burgerfest before, don't miss your chance this year. “It's going to be a hell of a party,” Zdeněk says. Taste outstanding burgers, rock out with the bands and decide for yourself who's got the best burger in town.

Burgerfest Prague - www.burgerfest.cz
BBQ Pit Boys - www.bbqpitboys.com

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