Last week brought the sad news that burger maestro Al Cassell had passed away at 98. His restaurant Cassell's is one of the original, great burger spots here in Los Angeles. I first tried his burger about thirteen years ago while exploring the city in my first days here after reading about the legend. It was a beautiful, fresh-ground patty served on an amazing bun that made me think that the relocating from New York City to start a new life in Los Angeles was just about the best decision I could have made. When Nick stopped in for a visit he too found that, despite Al having sold the business, Cassell's was still making a great burger.
Today in the Los Angeles Times, Lawrence Dietz weighed in with a touching tribute to a man that helped define the culinary identity of Los Angeles. He writes about showing Al the piece that he wrote years ago about Cassell's:
When Al read the words, "Best in the City," he got tears in his eyes. He said, softly, that it meant more to him than anything, because it recognized what he was trying to do with his life's work.
Today I headed over to have one in Al's honor. The new owners make the burger the way Cassell's always has, and, even though it might not be up to the level that Al demanded, it was still very tasty. Indeed, great burgers were not only his life's work, but also his legacy. Thank you for another delicious burger, Al.