Local chef’s burger is ‘Just Peachy’


Kyle Hash, the chef at Pizza Gallery & Grill, is happy that he followed his dream to be a chef rather than an engineer.


Besides cooking, chefs also like to talk. They share recipes, style, ingredients and gossip about their restaurants and the food that they cook.

“We get frustrated when we hear people say that there are no good places to eat in Brevard County,’’ said Kyle Hash, the chef at Pizza Gallery & Grill. “We know the great food is there. We try to get people to buy into it and think outside of their comfort zones. Contests can bring attention to it.’’

Hash is participating in the James Beard Foundation’s (JBF) Blended Burger Project. It is a nationwide contest that challenges chefs to make a blended burger by blending ground meat with finely chopped mushrooms to create a delicious, healthier and more sustainable burger.

The contest began May 28 and will run through July 31. Hash’s Just Peachy Burger is a blend of dry roasted Monterrey cremini and oyster mushrooms blended with chuck and sirloin meat, topped with smoked Gouda, white peach mostarda, parsnip aioli and crispy guanciale.

Anyone who likes peach cobbler and hamburgers will want to try the Just Peachy.

“The idea came from a peach dish that I won a contest with,’’ said Hash, who has been the chef at Pizza Gallery & Grill since December in his second stint at the popular restaurant. “It was a cold-smoked venison dish with peach mostarda. The mostarda is not too sweet. It works like ketchup on a hamburger.’’

That venison dish helped Hash win the Best Chef award at the Uncorked Food and Wine Festival in Cocoa Beach.

Diners who would like to participate in the James Beard contest can vote at two different websites — pizzagalleryandgrill.com or jamesbeard.org/blendedburgerproject/vote. The Just Peachy will be served at Pizza Gallery through July 31 and maybe permanently after that.

The James Beard Foundation’s panel will review 20 restaurants and select five finalists. The panel includes Andrew Zimmern, a TV personality, chef, writer and teacher; Antoinette Bruno, the CEO and editor in chief of StarChefs.com; and Susan Westmoreland, the culinary director of Good Housekeeping.

Chefs from the top five restaurants will win a trip to New York City to cook their blended burger dish during a fall event at the James Beard House.

“My favorite burger has always been a hamburger with American cheese and ketchup,’’ said Hash, who studied at Keiser University’s culinary school and graduated in 2010. “I haven’t met someone who doesn’t like a good burger. It’s a fun sandwich to mess around with.’’

Hash’s friend Toni Elkhouri convinced him to enter the JBF event. Elkhouri, the chef at Cedar’s Cafe in Melbourne, won the JBF two years in a row.

Hash, who grew up in both South Florida and Pennsylvania, was raised in an Italian family. But, he appreciates diversity in foods.

“I like specialty sauces, different techniques and different teaching styles,’’ Hash said. “I have a good feel for marinaras, and I like the French demi glace. From my time in the Philadelphia area, I have a deep appreciation for Philly cheese steaks and pretzels. When I visit a city, I don’t look for activities. I look for restaurants and local places to hit up.’’