Hamburgers are Cure-Alls

What’s the way to a man’s heart? Perhaps it’s knowing how to make the perfect burger. Hell, forget men, that’s the way to a woman’s heart too – we’re growing girls after all. That’s where Adam Fleischman – founder of national sensation Umami Burger – comes in. He took time away from his empire to tell us how to make the very best burger and then some: We were all ears. Need a cure for a hangover? Light eating for a first date? Wine-burger pairings? You came to the right place. After all, the way to any potato-head’s heart is through their stomach…

From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day? 

When I wake up, I go to Go Get Em Tiger on Larchmont for coffee and breakfast. For lunch, I like something, simple, fast, inexpensive but high quality like 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria. For dinner, I would go to Saison. Every meal I’ve had there is one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Josh Skenes is one of the best chefs in the country.

Could you give three tips to making one’s own ‘perfect’ burger?

Always grind your own meat, and make sure to use a cast iron pan and season the meat thoroughly.

Do you have any umami menu favorites? What are they?  

My favorites are the B.U.B (the Big Umami Burger), the cheesy tots on our secret menu and the Truffle Beet Salad.

You have a passion for wine; could you give us some great umami burger wine pairings?

The Truffle Burger goes very well with champagne or sparkling wine. I recommend Le Grand Courtage which pairs very well with the savoriness of the Truffle Burger. The Manly Burger balances nicely with a California Rhone Wine, like Field Recordings Old Potrero Vineyard Red Blend. The Hatch Burger, which has a little heat with the hatch chilies, actually goes best with Allagash White, a nice interpretation of a traditional Belgian wheat beer.

Three umami burgers for three scenarios (hangover, first date, and light eating)…  

We have a Hangover Burger with a fried egg on it for for a hangover. Light eating would be the Truffle Beet Salad (truffled ricotta, smoked almonds, wild baby arugula, truffle dressing). And on a first date, you should get The Royale (braised short rib, truffled aioli and truffle cheese).

What are your favorite burger spots in LA and NYC besides your own?

In Los Angeles, I like South Beverly Grill. They are doing a really nice job there. In New York, you can’t go wrong with the burger at Minetta Tavern.

If you could put your own spin on another classic, what would it be?  

I’m working on putting my own spin on fried chicken. I just opened ChocoChicken in downtown Los Angeles and we’re already opening a second location in Santa Monica. It is a delicious new take on fried chicken that incorporates chocolate as a seasoning. It’s not what you think it is. You just have to taste it to believe it.

What’s always in your fridge?   

Jam. I love Jam. I have close to thirty james in my fridge right now. I also always have beer and champagne.

A go-to weeknight recipe in three steps… 

I like to make Garlic Miso Ramen. You pick up fresh ramen from a Japanese market, mix it with water, add in miso, garlic and Japanese soy and enjoy.

A chef you haven’t collaborated with that you’d like to… 

I would really like to work with Fredrik Berselius in New York. I love Swedish food in general and I especially love his take on it.

If you could host a dinner party, with any five people living or dead, who would be there? What would you cook? 

I would invite Nathan Myhrvold, the former CTO at Microsoft and a leader in modernist cuisine, Jane Austen, the English novelist, Marshall McLuhan, another writer and philosopher, Auguste Escoffier, a French chef and writer and Henri Jayer, winemaker who completely innovated French winemaking. For dinner, I would make a cassoulet.

In the same vein as ‘what is the new black’ in fashion, what’s ‘the new potato’ in burgers?  

Like the ramen burger, we’re going to see more global mash up burgers as “the new potato.”

*Adam Fleischman, photographed at Umami Burger in New York, NY by Danielle Kosann.