Note: This week we're grilling Kevin Pang of the Chicago Tribune and The Cheeseburger Show (which, if you haven't seen before, you must watch now). After a successful six-episode run, six more episodes are currently in the works. There isn't anyone else I would turn to for Chicago burger recs.
Name: Kevin Pang
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Occupation: Host of The Cheeseburger Show, Chicago Tribune reporter
How often do you eat burgers? Three bites of each from about five burgers each week. That works out to roughly 16 ounces of protein over a seven day period.
Where did you eat your most recent one? Labriola Bakery Café, Oak Brook, IL. Half pound Angus patty, griddled, Nueske's bacon (not too crisp, not too soft), aged white cheddar, caramelized red onions, toasted pretzel bun.
Cheese: American, cheddar, other? Like asking for my favorite child (I do not have children). Had a great one with semi-melted Camembert last week. A few days ago, had Merkt's cheddar spread slathered over grilled onions and bacon. Insanity.
Ketchup or mustard? No.
Sesame-seed or plain? Sesame seed, buttered and lightly toasted on a grill top. Crisp circumference.
Grilled, griddled, or broiled? Griddled. I like the idea of beef patties confit-ing in its buttery grease.
And how would you like that done, sir? Deliciously, please.
Would you do us the favor of describing your perfect burger? Wagyu, medium rare, served by Natalie Portman.
The hamburger is a food item with which most Americans have strong childhood associations. Do you remember your earliest encounter with this delicious dish? It was around middle school. I went to the Red Robin by my home and had a burger with crispy straw onions, peppered bacon and A-1 sauce. It was like a first kiss (minus the awkward apologies that followed).
What's your favorite fast-food burger? In-N-Out. Too obvious? How about Steak 'n Shake?
What topping or condiment, in your opinion, should never grace a burger? Here in Chicago, there's this crazy notion of never putting ketchup on hot dogs. Goes way back, before I even moved here. The idea of regulating what people's taste buds are telling them is just silly. If Miracle Whip tastes good on burgers for you, more power to ya.
What's the most unusual burger you've ever eaten? Sweetbread burger was a textural mind-f.
What's the most overrated burger you've tried? Most underrated? East coast folks keep telling me Five Guys burgers are way better than In-N-Out. I respectfully disagree.
For some crazy reason, you're going vegetarian. Where do you go for your final burger? Not that far-fetched, since an upcoming show is dubbed "The No Meats Episode." Believe it or not, Grand Lux Café has an awesome all-mushroom burger.
Ever meet crazy fans while you're filming your show or just roaming around eating burgers? I was at a ribs festival, and some jagoff standing in line pointed at me and yelled as loud as he could, "Hey everyone! Look, it's that guy who eats cheeseburgers on TV!" I wanted to cry.