A pioneer of the gourmet burger with his DB Burger, the Michelin-starred French chef tells us about the others he doesn’t mind us knowing he’s eaten.
In Los Angeles, when I was creating my burger (the DB Burger was created in 2000), I was going around to see what the American burger was like. Apple Pan had a really American greasy spoon burger. I enjoyed seeing what it was, but was not convinced it was the kind of burger I wanted to do.
Also in LA is Father’s Office by Korean chef Sang Yoon. It was about beers and burgers. He has a small kitchen but nice grill to cook his burger – an unusual one with blue cheese and arugula. It’s a delicious burger with a mix of good quality beef. No, I don’t have the recipe. He and I always have a kind of competition, since we started doing burgers around the same time.
In Chicago, I had a classic American chef-driven burger at Au Cheval. It’s not a horse burger! (Cheval is horse in French).
In Wyoming, in the middle of the square of the small village of Jackson Hole, there was a small diner counter and they are cooking in the middle there.
The first burger I had in New York was at a place called Jackson Hole. New York is also famous for the classic American landmark burgers at bar pubs PJ Clarke and JG Mellon. I also had a classic burger at the recently opened Ralph Lauren restaurant.
How you can make the perfect sauce to go with burgers… Give me ketchup, mustard, Worcester sauce, Tabasco and mayo – separately. I’ll make my own mix, my own spicy sauce. Because not everyone likes mustard.
The best drinks to have with gourmet burgers… I only make mine to drink with wine, a pinot noir or burgundy – not soft drinks. I like beer with burgers, but not soda.
I have a customer who will drive three hours from Baltimore to New York every month. They come for lunch, spend US$1,100 – on two DB Burgers and a bottle of La Mouline (a Rhone wine from Guigal) – and drive home happy.
The DB Burger in Singapore at DB Bistro at Marina Bay Sands is different because it is served with chilli inspired by the local chicken rice chilli.
My favourite out of the burgers I invented is the Frenchie. It’s a peppered brioche bun, with a tomato compote (a cooked marmalade of tomato) and mustard. On top of the burger is Morbier cheese with a blue vein in the middle. It’s also got slices of rillon (a poached and grilled pork belly) and arugula. It’s how the French like their burgers to taste.
My children’s favourite burgers… My young son hasn’t gotten into burgers yet. I’m going to make baby sliders for him – let’s see how small I can make them – and teach him to appreciate a good burger.
My daughter (in her 20s) is gluten-free. Every time she orders a burger, she pushes the bun out. It isn’t a burger anymore. It’s ground meat!
The “burger” I’d like to try is of vegetables and tofu made by my friend, Moshik Roth, a chef in The Netherlands. It’s got broccoli, asparagus, green curry and Paad Thai salad. It’s looking pretty good, but I’m not sure you can call it a burger.
The ultimate burger… During black truffle season, we do the DB Burger Royale with a layer of fresh black truffle inside the burger. The Super Royale has two layers of black truffle: the burger is covered with truffle on both sides. We do this at DB Bistro in New York.
– TEXT BY GEMMA KOH
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.