Bobby Flay has rules about burgers. The patty must be seasoned with kosher salt and fresh pepper only – no garlic, no eggs, no breadcrumbs. (Add those, he says, and you've got a "meatloaf burger.") And the bun must be soft and squishy, no crusty rolls allowed. The bun needs to pull apart with the burger, not separate from it, he says.
Get the patty and the bun right, and according to the Bobby Flay school of burger assembly, you can let loose on the toppings. At Bobby's Burger Palace, the chef's new and growing chain of burger joints, he piles on the goods: avocado, onion rings, coleslaw, you name it. Most of the burgers on the menu are loaded with topping combos based on different parts of the country.
"Years ago, when I traveled for my Food Nation show, I learned a lot about regional specialties," he says, "so I think about burgers from a regional standpoint."
Today, Bobby enforces his burger rules from the top of a growing empire. Along with his three Bobby's Burger Palace spots-in Lake Grove, NY, Eatontown, NJ, and Paramus, NJ-he also has a new cookbook, Burgers, Fries & Shakes ($26, Clarkson Potter), and plans for even more Burger Palace locations down the road. We asked the chef to share a few recipes from his restaurants and book, including his favorite, the L.A. Burger. He always orders it "crunchified," or topped with potato chips. Says the ultimate burger purist: "It's the perfect sandwich."
Photograph by Steve Giralt