Thomas Keller flew into town last Friday to help judge the Hamburger Hop, the opening event of this year’s Chicago Gourmet. Burger competitions aren’t usually the most serious affairs, but Keller was the ultimate professional through it all. Before he had to sample fifteen or so different burgers from the likes of the Girl & the Goat, Terzo Piano, and NoMi, we were able to have a quick chat with him about what kind of burgers he loves. Also, he let us know where he’d eat in Chicago if he didn’t always have to spend time at Alinea.
So, do you prefer your burgers griddled or grilled?
Both, actually. Like anything, it depends on the execution. Each can be delicious if done correctly. What do you like?
Actually, yes. But it’s been a few years.
I really like that style a lot.
Have you had any burgers from Chicago before?
I haven’t. I usually get stuck having to go to Alinea. You know, I have to spend some time with Grant [Achatz]. I’m joking, of course. But I have been to Wiener Circle, which was great.
Are you’re planning to visit any restaurants while in town?
I really want to go to Hot Doug’s. I’ve heard so much about it. We’re planning on going there after the event.
It’s really awesome, but unfortunately Hot Doug’s closes after 4:00 p.m. He keeps bankers’ hours.
Well, see. Looks like I won’t go there after all. Figures.