George Motz, Hamburger America, Food film Fest South Walton

Burgers are not the same everywhere you go; from state to state, they all tell a different story, and no one understands this better than George Motz. “I don’t play favorites with burgers. They all vary, so it’s a slippery slope,” said Motz in our recent interview.

Motz says, “I tried to explain to a reporter once that I was a filmmaker, not a hamburger expert, but the press wouldn’t listen, so I ran with it. I love burgers and never tire of them. I can eat them every day.” With that, Motz has resigned himself to the fact that based on his travels, his passion for Americana, and intensive research, that maybe he really does know a lot about burgers.

Motz, the documentary filmmaker and Travel Channel host behind the award-winning Burger Land, and author of Hamburger Americathe book and film, is also The Food Film Festival creator and director. It sprang from his imagination while at home in Brooklyn in 2007. “Food Film Festival came about because of Hamburger America. A friend asked that I show the film in his restaurant, and we would eat at the same time. It went so well that I came together with other food filmmakers and we started a festival. Seth Unger is the nuts and bolts of the event and my business partner. He runs it well. The mechanics behind the scenes are astounding,” said Motz.

The team in place has currently completed 19 festivals in seven cities, with 72 events in last nine years, and on April 8 to 10, 2016; Food Film Festival will debut in South Walton. After writing about food, travel, chefs, farmers, fishermen, and the Southern region for quite some time, blogging, and owning two food-related websites, I for one am more than ecstatic to help promote this exciting food and drink event.

Food Film Festival South Walton

The Food Film Festival is held annually in three cites: New York City, Chicago, and Charleston, but come April it will bring South Walton’s Florida Panhandle to the forefront of foodie central. The festival screens exceptional films that showcase the world’s favorite foods and the people, traditions, and inspirations behind them. At every festival event, guests are treated to multiple mouth-watering food films, and then served the featured food for a multi-sensory, full- body experience, right in their seat. Motz said, ” Seriously, do not eat before you come to any Food Film Festival. I can’t emphasize that enough!”

It is through eating, sharing, and creating food that pleasure is evoked, connections are forged, context is offered, and history is created. With the addition of food films this spring, there will be no other place in the world, other than South Walton, where locals and visitors will congregate together for such an experience.

In meeting Joe Spector, Publisher & CEO of The Local Palate , and partner with The Food Film Festival during Emeril Lagasses’s Taste of the Race in Seaside last year, he said, “We couldn’t be more excited to host Food Film Festival South Walton. This area of Florida is the perfect backdrop for tasting flavors of the South while watching award-winning films.”

Motz expressed once again, “Do not show up full! Everyone attending will walk away knowing where good food comes from. We help people get closer to the food.  Are you ready for this? Are you hungry?”

Photo: New York Times
Photo: New York Times

George Motz has taught a course on hamburgers at NYU, and has consulted for many hamburger restaurants. In 2006, Hamburger America (the film) became required viewing in a food course at Princeton University and was nominated for a James Beard Award.

Today, as America’s foremost hamburger expert, and having eaten more burgers in more places than you can imagine, it is no surprise that his new cookbook, Great American Burger Book, will be released April 2016. It will showcase the wide range and varying techniques of cooking burgers at home.

However, to be published in the original, Hamburger America, Motz said, “You have to have had a burger on the menu for over 20 years. It must be made with fresh beef. Happy cows do make for the best burgers.”

George Motz’s Burger Recipe:
“My Dad’s burger is still my favorite, but a hamburger cooked on a flat top grill embodies America. Get to know your butcher. Mine is Joe. You need fat in a burger. Great burgers start with fresh ground beef, 80/20 is the best. I use chuck steak, ground twice and prefer to keep the meat loosely formed and then cooked in a cast iron skillet”, said Motz, who also uses an ice cream scoop, dropping the mixture in a hot pan. “Let it sit minute, add thin-sliced onions on top, a dash of salt, and smash with a spatula. It’s never touched by hand. Cook 2 minutes on each side. Then toast the bun in the pan, put the burger on the white bun, and it is good. It keeps the moisture in the meat. If you have good meat, you will have a good burger,” said Motz.

Note: “Heat from hands warms the beef when making a patty for the grill. This is what you want to avoid. Most Americans think the best way to cook a burger is on the grill, but you have little control over the temperature”, said Motz.
To ask George a burger-related question:

Local Palate brings Food film Fest to South Walton
The Local Palate brings Food film Fest to South Walton

Watch it. Eat it. And Buy Tickets.

VIP Welcome Event

“A Taste of What’s to Come”

Mingle with the stars of the weekend – the chefs and filmmakers – over artisan cocktails and hor d’ourves. We will kick off the weekend with a showcase of films, fine food and cocktails.

Benevolent Butcher – Bacon Wrapped Steak
Benevolent Baker – Mini Top Pot Donut


Road Trip
A Southern Culinary and Spirits Experience

Travel throughout the South in a matter of minutes as you experience a wonderful variety of the best food the region has to offer, whether it’s BBQ or biscuits, fried green tomatoes or banana pudding. Accompanying guests on the trip will be the finest craft beers and most interesting local spirits the South has to offer.  It’s an entire road trip, brought straight to the shores of Florida’s Gulf Coast!

By Land or Sea

Few things look as beautiful on film as the earth around us, whether it’s the open land or the blue ocean, and few spots better exhibit both than South Walton. At this exclusive screening, guests will view a dozen short films filled with the sights and smells of the natural world. They will have the opportunity to sample chef-prepared dishes based on the films.

For the Love of Beef Rib – Hometown BBQ
Sushi Handcrafted Happiness
Tako NY
The Mud and the Blood
Clam Pie
The Mobile Blues

An American Institution: Grits

The festival will conclude with brunch, celebrating the film It’s Grits! as our best chefs prepare a one-of-a-kind southern brunch at Bud & Alley’s in Seaside, Florida celebrating 30 years on 30A to send their new friends on their way.

South Walton, Sponsor of the Food Film Festival
South Walton, Sponsor of the Food Film Festival

Sign up for the Food Film Festival mailing list to be the first to receive details about the chefs and films featured at the festival.

A portion of the Food Film Festival South Walton proceeds will benefit the Emerald Coast Theatre Company and Food For Thought Outreach. For more information, Early Bird packages, and volunteer registration please visit

Food For Thought is a not-for-profit organization that provides backpacks filled with healthy, easy to prepare food for students who are dependent on free or reduced school meals. Their goal is to support a child’s development and educational experience by bridging the gap between school meals during weekends and holiday breaks.

Emerald Coast Theatre Company’s mission is to enrich and entertain the Emerald Coast community through professional and educational theatre. They inspire, educate, and empower the community and artists of all ages to achieve the highest level of cultural excellence through collaboration, productions, and educational programs.

Where To Stay? 

Resort Quest by Wyndham Vacations is currently offering 15% off lodging with the promo code: FILM.


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