Burger wars in L.A.
You know how you’re chatting with friends over dinner and someone has an idea, and then another person has an idea, and before long that idea becomes an agreement to participate in a midweek midnight escapade that involves a burger challenge, lace pantyhose, covert ops, and ketchup?
Well, on a dark and slightly warm midsummer night…
To say that I was suckered into helping Amy Scattergood document the escapades of one Chef Eric Greenspan of The Foundry would be SLIGHTLY inaccurate. Let’s see here – accompany Amy Scattergood of the LA Weekly (and formerly of the LA Times) while she collects info for a story about Chef Eric’s Martin Luther-esque postering of the local Father’s Office locations challenging Chef Sang Yoon to a luche libre type burger match? Gee. I think my answer is yes.
For some background, Chef Sang currently claims the title of best burger in Los Angeles at both of his Father’s Office locations. And not only is he super secretive about the burger’s make up but he adamantly, and kind of famously, refuses to serve his burger with ketchup. Even if you ask for it. Even if you demand it. Nope. You’re out of luck. Ketchup is verboten.
So of course Chef Eric not only challenges Chef Sang’s burger crown, but adds insult to injury by pasting the poster to the front door of each establishment…with ketchup.
In Chef Eric’s defense, his burger is mighty fine and deserves its day in the sun, right alongside his Grilled Cheese Invitational winning sammy – tallegio and apricot-caper puree on raisin bread. But the Ketchup Insult, which I am hoping it will be called, is more than just Eric’s attempt to bring glory to his humble burg. It’s bigger than that. It’s about truth, justice, and a public outcry against the fascistic and oppressive micromanagement of the customer’s taste experience. It’s a burger, he says. Let them eat ketchup!
So at the aforementioned dinner (where Amy served us duck tacos with a cherry and roasted tomatillo salsa…YUM), Amy mentions that Chef Eric is crazy, but in all the right ways, and that even though she isn’t a night person, she will be going on this wild quest to throw down the burger gauntlet at midnight on a Tuesday after The Foundry closes for the night and all of the Westside becomes a ghost town.
Either SJ volunteered me, or Amy asked me, or both, but somehow I ended up saying that I would go along with her and photograph the whole thing. How I would stay up or be functional the next day was a mystery…a completely irrelevant mystery. I was going on a covert ops mission…a FOODIE covert ops mission. Chef Wars: Los Angeles. Mano a mano. May the best burger win.
Sometimes? I live a charmed life. The whole experience was slightly surreal, right down to the realization that both Eric and his partner-in-crime, Josh, had not only purchased different colored pantyhose to cover their faces (black and tan) but that both has managed to select LACE pantyhose. With butterflies. And flowers. And yet they STILL proudly commenced, with stocking’d faces con butterflies, to lay down their manly burger gauntlet.
Just on pure chutzpah and verve alone, my money is on Chef Eric. The man is all adrenaline and fun – with classical French training. The big thing that won me over though? One of the ingredients in his burger is lard. Doesn’t even have to grease the grill. Can you imagine? YUM with a coronary. But so so worth it.
No word yet on if Mr. No Ketchup will accept the challenge. When one allegedly has the best burger in town, one should be expected to prove this on occasion. That said, it sounds like Chef Sang would have everything to lose in this ‘friendly’ competition, should Eric’s Patio Season burger reign supreme over his No Ketchup dictatorship.