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LIC restaurateur wins citywide burger contest

A Long Island City-based chef was recognized last week for his daily grind, picking up the city's first-ever "Real Burger King" prize at a competition held in Astoria by Dish du Jour Magazine.

Harry Hawk, owner of Long Island City's Harry's Water Taxi Beach at 2 Borden Ave. and co-founder of the New York City Food Film Festival, took top honors at Dish du Jour's first Burger Battle of the Boroughs, a spokeswoman for the food and dining publication said.

The contest was part of the magazine's seventh annual The Cuisine of Queens and Beyond food and wine gala at Astoria World Manor on Astoria Boulevard May 20.

Hawk said he believed his award-winning Motz Burger, named after hamburger guru and New York City Food Film Festival co-founder George Motz, won the competition due to its simplicity. The sandwich includes salt, a pickle and a bit of Hawk's secret sauce, he said.

"Simple food is a great way to eat," he said. "People do not need fancy, they need flavor and great taste. When you add too many ingredients to a hamburger, it becomes meat loaf."

Hawk said his method of crafting the sandwich produces a dish juicier and more succulent than your average burger. He said he first grinds the meat, but then scoops it rather than turning it into a patty. He said the meat is then seasoned, flipped on the grill and turned into a patty. Hawk said the burger is flipped once more but not pressed again.

"This method leaves the burger incredibly tender, almost falling apart, and very juicy," he said.

Each contestant in last week's cook-off had 15 minutes to prepare their sandwich. Contestants were awarded for originality, taste and presentation. Joe's Bestburger, located on Main Street in Flushing, was the only other borough competitor.

Hawk said Harry's, which opened right next to Long Island City's water taxi stop four years ago, only serves hamburgers for a short period of time each afternoon to ensure that the meat is fresh. He said the restaurant serves hot dogs, soy dogs and french fries all day.

Hawk and Motz's New York City Food Film Festival, which started last year, screens various movies about cuisine, especially hamburgers, Hawk said. This year's festival will run from June 14 to June 20.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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