Editor's note: Grilled is our interview series where we get to know more about our favorite burger makers and burger lovers. The column has been dormant for too long—it's time for us to ramp it up! If there you have any suggestions for people we should grill, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since we last checked in with Roam Artisan Burgers, owners Joshua Spiegelman and Lynn Gorfinkle opened two more locations, and plan to expand their "fun, family-friendly and eco-conscious" burger concept with additional restaurants in the Bay Area and beyond. Scroll down to learn more about the dynamic duo's burger preferences and get some burger-making tips.
Name: Joshua Spiegelman and Lynn Gorfinkle
Location: Roam Artisan Burgers (Union Street and Fillmore Street in San Francisco, CA; La Fiesta Square in Lafayette, CA)
What makes Roam Artisan Burgers a new different type of burger restaurant?
At Roam, we focus on sourcing the highest quality ingredients from local artisans and purveyors. We are committed to sustainability. Our beef is 100% grass-fed, and all of our meats are pasture-raised. Our produce is sourced locally, and our sodas are house made. Everything we do at Roam is focused on two core principles: 1) Great tasting food that is better for you and the environment, 2) providing a fun, hip and casual environment for families, singles, couples and really everyone to enjoy our food.
How did you first come up with the idea for a restaurant like this?
We met first in 2004 and discussed the idea of a burger place that serves fine-dining quality food in a casual environment. To our surprise, this concept didn't really exist, so we said "Let's do it!"
Do you see your restaurant expanding to even more locations?
Absolutely. We have three locations now (two in San Francisco, and one in Lafayette), and have several that are currently being planned in the Bay Area and beyond.
How often per week do you eat a burger?
Lynn: Sometimes I eat burgers, but more often than not, I will have a Farmer's Market Salad with a trio of turkey patties, or the seasonal veggies with an organic free-range egg. This is about three times per week.
Josh: Probably about three time per week (often more than that). I usually go for a Tejano or create my own burger with a gluten-free bun or lettuce wrap.
What's the craziest burger you've ever invented?
Josh: Our Tejano is pretty crazy: your choice of patty (beef, turkey, bison, veggie or elk), with house-made jalapeño relish, house-made corn strips, house-made herb ranch, pepper jack, avocado and tomato. It is a cool contrast of flavors and textures. The spicy/sweet jalapeño relish and the mellow herb ranch, then the soft, toasted sesame seed bun and the crunch tortilla strips....people go crazy over this burger and it is one of our favorites as well!
Lynn: Our veggie burger "French & Fries style" is outrageous. We start with our house-made organic veggie patty, add truffle parmesan fries (yes, on top of the burger!), gruyere cheese, Dijon mustard, caramelized onions, watercress, and avocado. There's a lot of flavor going on!
What topping or condiment, in your opinion, should never grace a burger?
Our brûléed marshmallow is delicious, but belongs on one of our Straus Family Creamery shakes, not a burger!
Would you do us the favor of describing your perfect burger?
Josh: A perfect burger begins with the bun, which should be soft and fluffy, yet lightly toasted so that it is crisp on the edges. Also, in each bite there should be a taste of all components of the burger—fresh tomato, lettuce, onions and pickles.
Lynn: My perfect burger has sustainably sourced protein (I usually opt for turkey, which we source from Diestel Family Ranch), locally grown toppings, such as perfectly ripe California avocado and for me, something spicy (such as hot sauce or Dijon) to take it to the next level.
Anything on the side?
Josh: Sometimes I opt for sweet potato fries, but a salad and an iced tea are usually my sides of choice.
Lynn: When I have a burger, I really enjoy eating it with a side of our seasonal veggies (currently, asparagus with lemon, garlic, Manchego cheese and crisp shallots).
The hamburger is a food item with which most Americans have strong childhood associations. Do you remember your earliest encounter with this delicious dish?
Lynn: We used to have burgers while at summer camp in Vermont; eating outdoors with friends by a serene lake left an indelible image in my mind.
Josh: My mom used to make home-made burgers and we could add our own toppings; my brother and I would compete over who could add more bacon.
What's your favorite fast-food burger?
Lynn: Shake Shack in NY—it's a classic burger spot that started close to my home town, so they really hit on the nostalgic elements of an old-time burger place.
Josh: In-N-Out. All of the elements are there; crisp, yet soft bun, nicely griddled patty and delicious caramelized onions. I also like the ability to customize even in spite of the small menu.
What are some cooking tips you can offer when preparing a burger?
Josh: We recommend using a flat top griddle for full contact of the patty and maximum caramelization. It is also important, especially when dealing with leaner meats like grass-fed beef, bison and turkey, not to overcook. Really, your first step in making a great burger is purchasing high-quality ingredients.
Lynn: It all starts with the farmer, rancher and baker. Utilizing traditional methods maintains authenticity, maximum nutritional benefits...all translating to awesome flavors!
Thanks, Josh and Lynn! It's been a pleasure.
About the author: Erin Jackson is a food writer and photographer who is obsessed with discovering the best eats in San Diego. You can find all of her discoveries on her San Diego food blog EJeats.com. On Twitter, she's @ErinJax