Grilled: Adam Fleischman, Owner of Umami Burger in Los Angeles


Burger-centric interviews with chefs, writers, and other food lovers.

In this installment of our burger interview series, I sit down with burger impresario Adam Fleischman of Umami Burger. I can barely believe it was just a short while back that Adam, a regular AHT reader, gave me the heads up about his new burger spot here in Los Angeles. Since then two more outlets have opened and Adam is in the process of putting together his grand project of turning Umami into a next generation fast food chain. Here is some more about this burger-preneur.

Name: Adam Fleischman
Location: Los Angeles
Occupation: Burger Restaurateur, Umami Burger

How often do you eat burgers? Regularly.

Cheese: American, cheddar, other? We make our own American. I cant stand the mass produced stuff. I do like cheddar though.

Ketchup or mustard? Depends on the other toppings. They aren't always needed.

Preferred bun: Sesame seed, plain white, brioche, or other? PLAIN!

Grilled, griddled, or broiled? Griddled is king.

And how would you like that done, sir? Medium rare is my default.

Would you do us the favor of describing your perfect burger? Six ounces of seared, flavorful beef, soft bun, cheese and aioli.

The hamburger is a food item with which most Americans have strong childhood associations. Do you remember your earliest encounter with this delicious dish? I never liked fast food burgers. I always liked the fancy steakhouse ones.

What's your favorite fast-food burger? In-N-Out, no competition.

What topping or condiment, in your opinion, should never grace a burger? Goat cheese.

What's the most unusual burger you've ever eaten? (Or most unusual burger experience you've had?) Umami's Stink Burger. It's got all the stinky stuff we could put on a burger: a beef patty with softened Tallegio, tempura anchovies, onions marinated in fish sauce, and pickles... There's lotsa umami in the stinky stuff.

What's the most overrated burger you've tried? Most underrated? 25 Degrees is overrated. The Oinkster is underrated.

What made you decide to open a burger restaurant? I wanted to do something different, yet classic.

With all of your success over the past eighteen months are planning on expanding Umami? Yes! Umami is moving into the fast food arena.

What are some cooking tips you can offer when preparing a burger? Grind your meat fresh and don't pack it tightly. Season well, sear on cast iron, and never press. Look carefully at your burger-to-bun ratio. Even a lot of pros screw this one up.