Today in our "Grilled" Q&A series, get to know Zakary Pelaccio, award-winning chef and founder of the Fatty Crew family of restaurants based in New York City and author of upcoming recipe book Eat With Your Hands. He participated in last week's Amstel Light Burger Bash at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival as Amstel Light's official Burger Bash chef.
How often do you eat burgers? 1-2 times per month.
The hamburger is a food item with which most Americans have strong childhood associations. Do you remember your earliest burger encounter? No, but I do remember grilling burgers in the backyard with my family.
Cheese: American, cheddar, other? Any cheese that melts well!
Ketchup or mustard? Mustard and mayo.
Preferred bun? Potato roll, soft, seeded bun, or Wolferman's English muffin.
Grilled, griddled, broiled, or other? Cast iron skillet, which is more or less the same as griddled.
How do you like your burgers done? Medium rare.
Would you do us the favor of describing your perfect burger?
It's really mood dependent. However, it's got to be at least 75/25 meat/fat, and I like a little heat and a little acid in my condiment.
What's your favorite fast-food burger? In-N-Out, Animal style.
What topping or condiment should never grace a burger? Tempoyak, a fermented durian condiment. Very select applications.
What was your favorite burger from the SoBe Burger Bash? The lamb and pork fat burger we made, topped with Pyrenees Brebis Lady Jayne's rye-barrel aged Worcestershire and Lady Jayne's salted cured chilies.
What's the best burger you've eaten this year? A burger my son Hudson and I grilled this summer. We sat outside and ate them standing around the grill, juice splashing on the ground...it's all context.
What are your favorite burgers in NYC? I can't say—I don't really eat burgers in town. There's so much great food, I don't have to eat a burger. I usually reserve my burger consumption for when I am upcountry in old Chatham and the selection of well executed food is a little leaner; up there, a burger is a safe choice.
What's your favorite meat blend for burgers? It's all the meat fat ratio. I believe you can use beef, pork or lamb; turkey and chicken are poor subs. When using beef, I like a brisket/hanger blend.
What's the most unusual burger you've ever eaten? A veggie burger. I just don't get it.
What's the most overrated burger you've tried? Most underrated? I don't know...I don't know who or what is rating something other than myself when I am eating it.
Imagine that for some crazy reason, you're going vegetarian. Where do you go for your final burger? My backyard, upcountry!