Question: Which fast-food burger is your favorite?
Answer: I love all burgers. Shake Shack in New York is great. Obviously, Michael Symon has a great burger at B-Spot in Cleveland and he has won our Burger Bash for three years running. I like Spike Mendelsohn’s Good Stuff Eatery in Washington, D.C. Both he and Michael contributed burger recipes for this book.
Q: You have stayed away from opening restaurants. Another Food Network celebrity, Bobby Flay, has his Burger Palaces. Would you open one? Do you plan any other future restaurants?
A: I would love to open a restaurant and have been looking at potential spaces for some time now. In the restaurant business it’s all about location, location, location. I have my concept down, now I just need to find a home for it in NYC.
Q: Did any of the burgers originate with 30 Minute Meals?
A: Plenty of them. That’s why I wanted to do a book dedicated to the burger. I like what a burger says. I like playing with the idea of what a burger is — it can be made with anything — seafood, vegetables, chicken. Obviously, in this book I have some more elaborate burgers that take a little more time, but the essence of a burger is that it’s a quick meal that can be whipped up using a lot of different ingredients you probably already have in the fridge and pantry.
Q: Why did you visit elementary schools with first lady Michelle Obama? Are there plans to do more on children’s health, as so many children think of McDonald’s rather than a healthy salmon burger?
A: The first lady is doing some amazing things to get America’s kids and families eating better and moving a little more. I’m glad we were able to come together in the way we did. Yes, our Yum-O! organization works on children’s health issues on a daily basis. From day one, I have always said it’s not hard to create a burger at home from scratch, and if you can take that small step to cook at home, a home-cooked burger is a lot better for you than eating fast food five nights a week.
Q: How important is the quality of the meat? Could the desired effect be achieved with the spices and lesser cuts of meat?
A: Ground chuck is a very affordable and great-tasting meat and most people have access to it. If you can get meat from a butcher or a source that grinds it fresh from whole muscles, that’s the way to go. It gives you the best quality while lowering the risk for food-borne illness which people tend to get from ground meat made from scraps. Brisket [used in one sandwich] is also a very affordable cut of meat. Sometimes there is just no need to get ground meat made from filet. Oh yeah, about the spices: While I do like to season up my food, spices should never be a cover-up for poor-quality meat, or any food for that matter.
Q: Last year, you taped a very Philly segment, the Great Philly Grill-Off with icon Patti LaBelle on theRachael Ray Show. Do you have any other Philly stars coming up soon?
A: We are currently on hiatus until Season 7 starts, but I love Philly. I love the restaurants there and the people are quite friendly, too. They sure do love their city.
Q: When you come to Philly, where do you eat?
A: That’s a tough one. There are so many cool things going on in Philly. I think what the ladies of 13th Street have done in transforming that block is pretty amazing — I happen to love Barbuzzo. I also happen to be a big fan of Jose Garces and all of his different concepts. Who doesn’t love a nice Italian boy like Marc Vetri?! My friend Kappy brought me some food from Michael Solomonov’s Israeli restaurant called Zahav, which was fantastic. I also hear Pub & Kitchen is quite tasty, but I haven’t made it there yet.
Contact Deirdre M. Childress at 215-854-2463 or firstname.lastname@example.org.