Cruise ship food is intense. Imagine being on a small city that moves, most restaurants on board are inclusive and eat-till-you-pass-out, and in the case of the Carnival Vista ship I'm on right now, it's home to Guy's Burger Joint. Yeah, that Guy. Guy Flavor-Town Fieri himself. In case you forgot:
I've had his burger joint before (on another Carnival cruise ship, his brand a staple of the ship's eateries), and I'll be begrudgingly honest with you, it's one of the best burgers I've ever had. His restaurant is simple, close in style to Chipotle, grab a tray, pick a burger, one or two patties, cheese, maybe some chili, his well-known "Donkey Sauce," and then you're on your way to...well, fuck it, I'll say it again, "Flavor Town."
This particular night was different. My feet were weathered from an excursion in Rome (woe is me), my palette was painted Italian, and upon the end of our port day, I was eager to get anything but culture. No Chef's Table, no fresh-pulled mozzarella on a stone fire-grilled pizza--I wanted a burger.
Fellow Foodbeast writers Peter and Isai were down to slum it as well. Something came over me in line, though. I knew the friendly wait staff at Guy's, a slew of Indian and Filipino gents, would at least humor any request, so I asked "What's the biggest burger I can make?"
A particularly chippy fellow assembling burgers at the end of the line chuckled and asked, "How big you want?"
Damn, Guy teaches his dudes well. "I don't know, can you do ten patties?"
He murmured with his dudes behind the line and ultimately sacked up, like any Guy-fearing employee would, and cheerfully began prepping patties. "You know what," he said. "Let's do 11 patties. I make one with bacon. Chili? Yeah, you need chili on here too."
My man was killing it, the ghost of still-alive Guy Fieri embodying ever fiber of his being as he stacked patty-after-patty with a huge smile on his face. "What's the biggest burger you've built before?" I asked.
"Only 7 before, this is the biggest burger I've made in my life. Trust me, I've made plenty."
A basketball player joined the line, admitting his coach would kill him if he ever attempted to eat something like that. "I'll stick with a double patty, thanks," the player said, smile creeping on his face as he pulled out his phone to catch a Snapchat of the 11-patty burger. A few couples walk by, presumably on some group 50th anniversary trip, complete disgust on their faces. I'm sure they'll hit the ship's complaint box later, inking slips of paper about the "young kids loose upstairs at Guy Fieri's Burger Establishment."
Oh shit, he's done:
It takes two steady hands to carry the monstrosity over to a nearby table, but we make it.
We're determined to finish. Folks are looking over now-- and frankly, between the three of us, we're basically just eating a burger with a little over 3 patties each. I've done fatter things with less on the line, so we dig in, every bite better than the last. The patties are crispy, smashed with seasoning on the grill just moments prior, but the patties flake apart with every bite. The chili is everywhere, the cheese dividers between each layer are a welcome addition.
A gentleman passing by stops to take a picture, "My wife is gonna love this, she loves crazy food."
Tell your wife I say what's up, I thought, but obviously didn't because I'm not that brazen.
Then the awesome dude who built our burger comes out from behind the counter to check on us. In the heat of the moment I hadn't caught his name earlier. I inquire.
"My name is ______, but they call me 'Gorilla.'"
"Yes, because I eat everything and I make the craziest things."
Gorilla, thank you for being you. Guy, if you're reading this, give this gentleman a raise. A fat one. Or at least give him a season pass to Flavor Town.