Wylie Dufresne on the Hamptons’ Bloodbath, Ketchup-Flavored Cheese, and Missing Alex Stupak
Just when the Hamptons were getting too predictable, here comes wd~50's Wylie Dufresne with a burger of homemade American cheese and a pine-scented pickle. The occasion? Burger Bloodbath, a private East End event born and raised by The Feast's Ben Leventhal. While there are strict rules to the competition and the location is largely guarded, Dufresne's only real concern is presenting the best beach burger imaginable, and "not losing ... for once."
So, what's his winning strategy going to be? "First of all, I'm a big a big fan of American cheese," he tells Grub Street. "I prefer Land-o-Lakes. Kraft is a little too plastic. We worked on a mixture of a couple different cheeses, with an addition of wheat beer. It's not terribly difficult. I've certainly done more complicated things. Making a delicious bun would have been harder. In the spirit of playing to win, my R&D team also tried to come up with a cheese that tasted like ketchup, but we can't get it right in time."
A self-proclaimed non-Hamptons guy ("Do I look like one? I'd rather be at L.L.Bean!"), Dufresne is managing his expectations for the big event on Saturday: "I go on national TV and lose constantly. I've yet to win anything, ever."
Dufresne will be competing with chefs like Michael White (slinging his signature White Label Burger), Boqueria's Marc Vidal (with a chorizo burger), and last year's non-industry champ and breakout star Mo Koyfman, who won with a classic American burger.
"I think hamburgers are stupid," he must add. "But cheeseburgers are one of my favorite things in the world ... I go to Fresh and Fast on East 23rd; their burgers are awesome. On the night of the James Beard Awards, I went in my tux and had a burger alone."
While we had him to ourselves, we couldn't help but ask something having nothing to do with the 'bath: Do you miss Alex Stupak? "The pastry world misses him; he's literally one of the best pastry chefs in the world. I'm glad that he's doing what he wants to do, and he seems happy, which is all that matters. But from my perspective, fine dining lost a star."