LOCAL CHEFS SPILL ON BURGERS
This issue has most assuredly added to the debate of which city has the best burgers. To be sure, Winston-Salem has fewer “burger joints.” On the food scene, it’s probably one of the most talked about needs in the Camel City. We reached out to chefs in both cities GREAT FOOD. They don’t own burger joints, but these chefs know a thing or two about ingredients and what they think makes a burger. All of them agree that it’s really a combination of flavors and texture and each has their own way of going about it, whether it’s for their restaurant or for their own enjoyment:
CHEF KRISTINA FULLER, CRAFTED-THE ART OF THE TACO & CRAFTED- THE ART OF STREET FOOD (VOTED BEST CHEF BY YES! WEEKLY READERS)
It’s not commonly known, but Chef Fuller is the Culinary Partner of uber-popular burger joint, Hops Burger Bar, in Greensboro. She had a hand in basically every burger you read on the menu at Hops and creates the specials every week. She says she thought about what she likes when she created the menu. “The key factor, for me, is that it’s cooked on a flat top. It has texture and crunch on the exterior with a moist, medium center.” As for her favorite fixings, “I don’t have a single favorite, but what I look for is a balance of crunch & creamy”¦a good mouth feel, as well as savory, sweet, sour, spice and when I built the menu at Hops, that’s the principle I was using.” Hops isn’t the only place with her burger influence as Chef Fuller’s Crafted- The Art of the Taco has burgers on the menu and continue to be very popular with diners there. Not into meat? She recommends her Black Bean & Corn at Crafted or the Mushroom and Cauliflower at Hops. “Sometimes you get just as much satisfaction with a vegetarian burger as you do with an ordinary burger. It’s fun to experiment and try new things.”
CHEF RICHARD MILLER, GRAZE RESTAURANT, WINSTON-SALEM
What we really wanted to know from Chef Richard Miller is what on earth possessed him to put a piece of fried chicken on a burger that already had bacon and cheese on it? The Graze Burger ($15) comes with a 4 oz. Certified Angus Beef burger, smoked gouda and cheddar cheese, Texas Pete Cha! Buttermilk ranch, bacon, lettuce, tomato AND a piece of fried chicken breast on brioche. “We wanted to come up with a signature burger that really stood out. My sous chef, Tim, and I went into the kitchen, whipped it up and on the first try, it was everything we dreamed it would be.” When Miller isn’t adding protein on top of protein in the Graze kitchen, he says he enjoys a basic Carolina burger with chili, slaw, cheese, ketchup, etc. “The sloppier, dripping off the bun, the better!”
CHEF TIM THOMPSON, COMPETITION DINING CHAMPION; ESSEN
The champ, Chef Tim Thompson likes his burger in a similar way as Chef Miller. “Being from North Carolina, there’s just no other way to go than chili, mustard and slaw.” But he encourages other meat options as well. “I love lamb burgers and one of my favorites is a burger made with ground pork,” he says. “But if you really want to play with your toppings, a great way to go is turkey. It’s so light and mild”¦it’s like a blank canvas. You add curry to it and top with a cucumber sauce and those ingredients really stand out. Some ingredients simply don’t go well with beef.”
CHEF KEVIN REDDICK, THE SCREAMING RADISH FOOD TRUCK
Literally crossing the county is the most mobile of our group. This chef, of the former Artisan Restaurant in Winston-Salem, now has a kitchen on wheels. Chef Kevin Reddick agrees with Chef Fuller that you “really can’t go wrong with cooking it on the flat-top so that it cooks in its own juices.” His favorite ingredients are ketchup, mustard and pickles. He says though, “I like to put my own spin on them, with homemade ketchup and mustards with different flavors thrown in. And the pickles can be pickled shallots or radishes, of course.” He also says that the quality of the meat is of upmost importance. Whether it’s grass-fed or grain, “the marbling will make all the difference” and his favorite will always be a combination of short rib and chuck.
We also asked cookbook author and celebrity culinary judge of “Cuthroat Kitchen,” Simon Majumdar what his favorite burger toppings are as well. He simply stated, “Red onions and Swiss”¦and that’s about it!” !