Harlingen chef invited to ‘Oscars of culinary’ contest

HARLINGEN — Build a better burger, and the world of international cuisine will come pounding on your door.

Chef Frank Macias, who started his gourmet food truck business Frankie Flav’z in August, also knows an honest burger makes its own friends.

In his case, it’s the Bulldog Burger, around a half-pound of ground slathered with sautéed mushrooms and onions, jalapenos, cheddar cheese and a grilled slice of Kielbasa, split.

“It’s pretty popular, and it’s not a small burger, either,” Macias said yesterday. “You’ve gotta be hungry to tackle that baby!”

Macias and his $8.99 Bulldog Burger are among those honored by being among the burgers selected for the prestigious James Beard Foundation’s Blended Burger Project. The contest is based on the creative use of mushrooms, flavor profile and appetizing appearance.

Macias said he’s a member of the Texas Chef’s Association, and he said they notified all the chefs about the contest and he thought he had a burger that qualified.

“It’s kind of like the Oscars of culinary, I guess you could say,” Macias said.

It isn’t the only sandwich in his food truck arsenal. He makes several others, like The Cubano, The Juicy Lucy, El Chapa Burger and a Sriracha Burger.

Frankie Flav’z is the only Harlingen eatery in the Beard contest, but there are four McAllen restaurants in the mix for the Blended Burger prize — Bodega Tavern & Kitchen, House, Wine and Bistro, The Orchard Lounge and SALT — New American Table.

Anybody who’s had a Bulldog Burger and liked it can vote for Frankie Flav’z at the James Beard website, www.jamesbeard.org/blendedburgerproject/vote

Mobility is the key to his work, the chef said. On Tuesdays for lunch, he parks outside Southern Career Institute at 1122 Morgan Blvd. On Wednesdays, he’s at the Qualfon call center at 2200 Haine Dr. and on Thursdays he’s at the Dish Network call center at 2809 E. Grimes Ave.

The rest of the time, he said, he’s selling gourmet sandwiches outside Harlingen or he’s doing catering work.

Macias says he believes voting in the burger contest continues until the end of the month.