Food Network star Guy Fieri visits MEAT Eatery’s sister location

Chef George Patti sears MEAT logo into a bun. (Damon Higgins/ The Palm Beach Post)
Chef George Patti sears the MEAT logo into a bun. (Damon Higgins/ The Palm Beach Post)

UPDATE: MEAT Eatery co-owner George Patti has clarified that Fieri visited the burger joint’s Islamorada location, not Boca Raton, as he suggested in an interview. The updated version is below:

Food Network’s Guy Fieri drove his red 1968 Camaro convertible to Islamorada to visit MEAT Eatery & Taproom, which has a sister eatery in Boca Raton.

Fieri’s December visit to MEAT airs at 10 p.m. tonight on his Food Network series “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” A viewing party is planned at MEAT’s Boca Raton location.

MEAT Eatery is hosting a "Triple D" viewing party tonight at the Boca burger joint. (Contributed)
MEAT Eatery is hosting a “Triple D” viewing party tonight at the Boca burger joint. (Contributed)

MEAT’s chef and co-owner George Patti tells us he griddled up one of his famous Juicy Lucy burgers for Fieri, plus a heap of other bites.

“We did smoked wings, chipotle-honey barbecue sauce, house-made pork rinds — we went through the whole pork rind process for him. We did house-made Worcestershire and chimichurri aioli,” says Patti.

The jovial, camera-ready chef took his share of ribbing from Fieri.

“He was funny. He kept breaking my chops about my hair. He kept calling me ‘Ironman.’ I said, ‘You’re making fun of my hair?'” says the chef.

Fieri’s Camaro did its best to further the eatery’s dive vibe on Overseas Highway and Mile Marker 88.

“It leaked oil all over my parking lot,” says Patti. “Some of his guys were underneath it, trying to stick towels to stop the leak.”

Two Palm Beach County establishments have been featured on Fieri’s show: Flakowitz of Boynton Bakery and Deli in Boynton Beach, and Havana Hideout in Lake Worth.

MEAT Eatery & Taproom: 980 N Federal Highway (Cendyn Spaces building), Boca Raton; 561-419-2600




Which restaurant has the best burger in Palm Beach County?

photo meat burger
An Inside-Out Juicy Lucy Burger prepared at M.E.A.T. Eatery and Tap Room restaurant located in Boca Raton. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)

An excerpt from our Food Editor’s 2015 Critic’s Choice Awards:

Best Burger in Palm Beach County: MEAT Eatery & Taproom:

When Chef George Patti brought the Inside-Out Juicy Lucy Burger to Boca Raton from his Islamorada burger joint, he set a new standard in pure decadence. This burger, a brisket and beef patty stuffed with pimento cheese and house-made bacon bits, then topped with a swoon of American cheese, is a thing of beauty in all its messiness.

Meat Eatery & Taproom: 980 N. Federal Highway, Suite 115 in the Cendyn Spaces building, Boca Raton; 561-419-2600;

Related: Juicy Lucy! Home wrecker! Boca burger eatery is eclectic experience

Related: 15 best burgers in Palm Beach County

Is it time to break up with bacon? Meat-loving chefs weigh in.

Branding the buns: Chef George Patti at work at MEAT, Boca. (Damon Higgins/ Palm Beach Post)
Branding the buns: Chef George Patti at work at MEAT, Boca. (Damon Higgins/ Palm Beach Post)

Carnivores, can you imagine a world without bacon?

A study released last week by cancer researchers at the World Health Organization struck fear in the hearts of meat lovers everywhere when it classified processed meat as a carcinogen and concluded red meat is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

Does that mean America’s love affair with bacon, burgers and hot dogs is doomed?

Not if you’re looking at life from a burger joint kitchen, like Boca Raton’s MEAT Eatery & Taproom. That’s where chef/ co-owner George Patti makes his own bacon, a process that takes 12 to 14 days as the pork belly is cured in a mix of salt, brown sugar, rosemary and garlic then smoked over cherry wood.

“We don’t use nitrates,” says Patti, referring to the chemicals found in standard commercial curing salts. But he knows his meat-centric menu falls under the scope of the WHO researchers, who reviewed more than 800 studies conducted on the link between meat and cancers in the past 20 years.

BaconThe researchers agreed red meat (beef, veal, pork, lamb and goat) may cause colorectal, pancreatic or prostate cancer.

Perhaps most emphatically, those 22 cancer experts from 10 countries concluded that the consumption of processed meats – like ham, hot dogs, corned beef, sausages, canned meat and beef jerky – causes colorectal cancer. This is because the curing and smoking of meats can produce cancer-causing chemicals, they found. And the highest amount of these chemicals are produced when meats are cooked at high temperatures, they said.

To which chef Patti says: “Oh my God. Everything causes cancer.”

A thought echoed by Aaron Merullo, a meat lover who operates the PS561 hot dog truck in Palm Beach County.

“Everything is bad for us and causes cancer,” says the hot dog chef whose retro-inspired creations are topped with everything from crushed potato chips to Fritos, adobo sauce to cucumber slaw. “The FDA and WHO scold us for enjoying red meat once in a while. Meanwhile, our government is polluting our air, water supplies, and soil, and poisoning is with prescription drugs. But that’s another story.”

Food truck PS561's hot dog master, Aaron Merullo, drizzles a special, cream cheese-based cilantro sauce on specialty hot dogs. (Contributed)
PS561’s Aaron Merullo drizzles a cream cheese-based cilantro sauce on specialty hot dogs. (Contributed)

Merullo serves all-beef, New York-style Sabrett hot dogs, smoked turkey franks and veggie dogs. And, sure, he indulges in his food truck’s fare, as well as bacon, burgers and steaks, he says. “I also eat a balanced diet that includes lots of fruits and veggies. Everything in moderation, even the unhealthy stuff.”

Another local chef and unabashed carnivore agrees.

“I’m a pretty meaty guy,” says chef Fritz Cassel of Hullabaloo gastro pub in downtown West Palm Beach, “but I eat a ton of vegetables. I’m an omnivore. Humans are omnivores by nature.”

Hullabaloo executive chef and general manager Fritz Cassel takes a BLT break at the downtown West Palm Beach gastro pub. (Thomas Cordy/ The Palm Beach Post)
Chef Fritz Cassel takes a BLT break at Hullabaloo, West Palm. (Thomas Cordy/ The Palm Beach Post)

He’s a chef who always has a slab of pork curing in kosher salt and sugar for house-made bacon, a guy who adds a thick slice of pork belly in his BLTs, a chef who regularly adds beefy dishes to his menus. In fact, he just put a Wagyu beef cheek ravioli on the menu, a dish he dresses with veal demi-glaze, roasted artichoke and heirloom tomatoes.

“I’m going to enjoy meat as long as I can,” says the chef, who adds an important caveat: “I try to source all natural products, and make sure no hormones or antibiotics have been administered. Just knowing where your meat comes from makes a big difference, I think.”

Chef Patti agrees. At his eatery, he uses meats raised with no hormones or antibiotics. These details have become increasingly important to his diners, he says.

“People now care about where the meat comes from. People are asking me about this all the time,” he says.

This consumer interest in meat quality is music to the ears of Jupiter holistic physician Ken Grey.

“We know there is a difference between corn-fed meat and grass-fed meat, and a difference between organic and non-organic meats,” says Dr. Grey, an acupuncturist at Jupiter Medical Center and author of holistic cookbooks.

 Ken Grey prepares candied blood orange veal tenderloin with port wine-morel mushroom sauce. (Palm Beach Post file)
Dr. Ken Grey prepares veal tenderloin with port wine-morel mushroom sauce. (Palm Beach Post file)

He urges the public to put the new findings in a much larger context. “We have to stop taking things at face value,” he says. “I’m not going to say that eating red meat is what’s causing the cancer. It’s a higher consumption of acid and poor digestion that’s the problem. It’s not the meat.”

Because cancer thrives in an acidic environment, a healing diet calls for more alkaline elements, such as green, leafy vegetables, he says. Your ideal plate should include two or three vegetables that are not cooked to the point of mush, he says. And your diet should be supplemented with enzymes and probiotics to aid healthy digestion.

A great enemy of meat digestion? Antacids, he says. They interfere with the digestion of proteins and simply mask symptoms, he says.

Grey is a carnivore whose cookbook recipes include meat dishes like oxtail stew. But he will make no case for bacon. “There’s (nitrate-free) bacon that’s less harmful, but is it beneficial? No.”

He points to some Old World cultures and their moderate use of meats, advocating a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern diet over “the old meat-and-potato idea, which is very harmful.”

TWITTER: @LizBalmaseda