National Cheeseburger Day is September 18, so we had to ask these celeb chefs their favorite place to get their burger fix. And their favorite toppings for the perfect patty—some of which may surprise you! Launch the gallery to see their mouthwatering answers.
Maneet Chauhan, judge on Food Network’s Chopped and restauranteur
Favorite burger spot: The Mockingbird in Nashville (Chef Brian Riggenbach)
Favorite toppings: Top your burger with caramelized onions, guacamole, salsa and tortilla chips to give it a Southwestern twist!
Aaron Lirette, Executive Chef at GreenRiver in Chicago
Favorite burger spot: There’s a place by my house called Rootstock that’s an awesome wine bar with a kitchen that stays open until 1 a.m. (which is perfect for me, because I can stop by for a bite after I get off work.) They have a fantastic burger made with Slagel farm ground beef and topped with pickles, lettuce and their version of special sauce. It comes with a green salad, but I usually get fries as well.
Favorite toppings: Bacon aioli, red onion, cheddar, Werp Farms greens and housemade pickles
Duff Goldman, host of Food Network’s Cake Masters and author of Duff Bakes
Favorite burger spot: The Apple Pan in Los Angeles
Favorite toppings: I like a thin burger on a soft, sweet bun. Like King’s Hawaiian. I like lettuce, ketchup, mayo, American cheese and bacon. I’m a burger purist. Blue cheese doesn’t belong on a burger.
Bryant Wigger, Executive Chef at Tavernonna Italian Kitchen, Kansas City, Missouri
Favorite burger spot: In-N-Out Burger—animal style with extra pickles
Favorite toppings: A fried egg over medium.
Gail Simmons, judge on Bravo’s Top Chef, and author of Bringing It Home (available Oct. 24)
Favorite burger spot: It’s a toss-up between the Tavern Burger at Little Jack’s Tavern in Charleston, Minetta Tavern’s Black Label Burger in NYC, and a single cheeseburger, animal-style at In-n-Out Burger on the west coast.
Favorite toppings: Tomato, pickles, blue cheese and mustard, along with a “special sauce” I like to make with mayo, shallots, ketchup, pickle juice, smoked paprika, garlic powder and hot sauce.
Adam Richman, host of Travel Channel’s Secret Eats and author of Straight Up Tasty
Favorite burger spot: I love Red Mill Burgers in Seattle, Father’s Office and In-N-Out Burger in Los Angeles, 5 Napkin Burger in New York City and The Vortex Bar & Grill in Atlanta. Mason’s in Nashville makes a damn fine burger too, as does Tradewinds Cafe in Arundel, Maine.
Favorite toppings: It’s about the combinations you create. The difference in the type of cheese or onion can take a burger from spicy flavors to rich, earthy ones. Love cheese on a burger, particularly Swiss, Bleu, or Gruyere. They work really well with beef. The only time I use cheddar is if I am using bacon. I have to have ketchup, onion, tomato, lettuce and pickle on my burger. Mayonnaise and mustard are OK in my opinion, but not necessary. I love things like sautéed onions, and even crispy fried ones are great on a burger. Hell, throw an onion ring on a cheddar bacon cheeseburger with a drizzle of barbecue and some pickles, and thank me later!
Gerard Craft, Chef/Owner of Niche Food Group in St. Louis
Favorite burger spot: 5 Star Burgers, St. Louis
Favorite toppings: Cheddar and bacon
Andrew Zimmern, Host of Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel
Favorite burger spot: Like pizza, you always hold up all the burgers to the great burger of your youth. When I was young, the neighborhood burger bar was JG Melons on 74th and 3rd avenue in NYC. I still go back, always stopping in the middle of the day and order my usual, same thing for 45 years…spinach salad, a charred rare plain burger and an order of their incredible cottage fries that are small waffle cut discs that puff up like pommes soufflé. I have loved this place since the day it opened. I had my first drink there, dozens of first dates in high school and college and grew up inside its walls. My life happened here. I can’t pick another burger over this one. Ever.
Favorite toppings: I always go for a plain crusty charred “black and blue,” Pittsburgh rare style of burger. I want to taste the crusty char, the intense beefy warm meat in the center and the toasted bun, everything else seems to take away from the burger rather than add to it. I think if I stray from that model it has to be something really complimentary and unique.
Favorite burger spot: My favorite burger, excluding CBD’s, would have to be In-n-Out’s Double Double animal style. I am a California kid and not only is it delicious but it’s a little nostalgic for me. Mustard griddled on to the patties, grilled onions, extra sauce, tomato, and lettuce; you can’t beat it for the price. It’s one of those “ewwy gooey” burgers, which for me personally is the altar I pray at.
Favorite toppings: I know there are a lot of chefs that are all about the beef, which I get, but why not get a steak instead? For me, burgers are about the beef and the cheese, and you can’t beat a good slice of melted American.
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