Thursday, December 10, 1998
There are certain things in life Americans seem predisposed to uphold and revere. Somewhere right after democracy and baseball, all-beef patties on sesame seed buns hold sway as a precious right to protect and consume, a providential liberty inherent to a meat-eater''s pursuit of happiness. Just try being a couple of morning show radio hosts who casually pose the question, "Where''s your favorite place to grab a burger?" And then be prepared to loosen your belt a few notches and set off on a carnivorous quest.
Without really realizing it, that''s just what happened when CD93''s dynamic time-to-get-up duo Mike and Sybil threw out the perfunctory--at first--musing. "It''s not exactly like we said to each other, ''Hey, let''s go off on a burger quest,''" Sybil recounts. "We hadn''t really thought about what it could turn into."
"It was just something that we were already in the habit of doing," Mike concurs. "We''re both up since four o''clock in the morning, so when we get off the air at 10, we''d go grab a burger. Then we started asking pretty much anybody who grew hair who had the best burger."
Ultimately, the question became, ''Do Mike and Sybil really want to know the answer to who has the World''s Best Burger?'' "I gained about seven pounds," Mike admits. And Sybil? "One of our advertisers at the time was a (metabolism- boosting supplement)," she reports, "so I actually came out about even."
After 16 weeks of dedicated gustatory forensics--a search that took rapt listeners, if not quite around the world, at least to several counties--the deed was done. "We took one bite," Sybil whispers reverentially, "we looked at each other, and we knew."
The rules were easy: All-beef patty. Secret sauce. Swiss cheese. Regular bun. Other condiments on the side. And no jibes, jeers or bribes from other diners. Tirelessly sliding into booth after booth, after each consuming more than two dozen burgers, Mike and Sybil bit, chewed, swallowed and finally smiled with knowledge. According to their taste buds, Salinas'' own Dakota Jakes makes The World''s Best Burger, right here in Monterey County and bestowed the plaque to prove it last week on the CD93 Morning Show with Mike and Sybil.
Chef and burger-meister Jorge Couto is passed the torch of honor, a flame fueled by an oak-fired grill where Certified Angus beef is set to sizzle in unadulterated glory. "Except for my secret seasonings," Couto hints. "Those will be revealed in my cookbook."
"I can only describe it as having the taste of steak," Sybil reflects, "like maybe tri-tip, only it''s a burger." Mike nods in agreement. "Actually, we never had a bad burger," he attests. "Dunneville Restaurant in Hollister also has a great burger that they make with their own freshly ground beef. They came in second. Best bar burger was Duffy''s in Monterey, the best highway burger was Burger Queen in Gonzales, the best secret sauce was the Catz Pause in Hollister, the best soda was Del Monte Express and the most unique food was Hula''s, both in Monterey. We really liked their sweet potato French fries."
Although the dedicated duo admits to declining the burger menu on their frequent lunch outings of late, they both feel the weight (especially Mike) of responsibility upon them. Separately they each admit to a vague, fitful awareness that they are charged with a duty, the restive tug that lights the altruistic lamp of culinary luminosity. "What will be next?" they are queried, "Burritos, tacos, carne asada?" Stay tuned.