"Grilled" is our series of Q&As of burger-related people. It's been a while since we've done these regularly, but we're starting up again by interviewing our contributors so you can get to know the people behind our site. Today we're grilling Lacey Muszynski, who checks in every other week with a new Milwaukee burger review. You can also check out her milkshake reviews (they go hand-in-hand with burgers!) at Serious Eats: Drinks.
How has writing for AHT changed your burger-eating habits? How often do you eat burgers now compared to before? I eat way more burgers than I used to, and weirdly enough, I crave burgers more now, even though I eat them often! Same thing happened to me with chocolate when I worked in a candy store...
The hamburger is a food item with which most Americans have strong childhood associations. Do you remember your earliest burger encounter? I remember eating a Kopp's burger on the floor in my parents' bedroom and thinking, "Hey, burgers can be good!" Because while my mom was a pretty good cook, her burgers suck. (Sorry mom, but they do.) Kopp's became my family's go-to burger place and the place we'd go to first when we came back from a trip.
When did you realize you loved burgers? See above!
Cheese: American, cheddar, other? All of the above? I'm a Wisconsinite, after all. But muenster is by far the most underrated, underused burger cheese.
Ketchup or mustard? I'll get flack for this, but I don't like mustard, especially the yellow American style. I wish I could like it but I just don't. I never order a burger with ketchup, though if it's not very good sometimes I'll dip.
Preferred bun? Definitely buttered and toasted or grilled. I'm not a fan of ciabatta buns for burgers, they seem too substantial and their texture is all wrong for burgers to me.
Grilled, griddled, broiled, or other? It just depends on my mood. I really like smash method burgs, or more fast-food style sometimes, but other times I just want a big, juicy pub-style burger. What I'm not a huge fan of is charcoal-grilled burgers.
How do you like your burgers done? Medium, unless they're smash method, in which case well is fine. If I don't know where the beef came from, I'd rather have well than rare, honestly.
Would you do us the favor of describing your perfect burger? My go-to toppings would be meunster and cheddar cheese, finely chopped onions fried in butter, fresh jalapeño slices, and good crunchy pickle chips. On what kind of burger depends on the day. And I really like a good patty melt as well!
What's your favorite fast-food burger? Local: Kopp's. Chain: Five Guys. But I've never been to In-n-Out or Shake Shack so that's not exactly objective.
What topping or condiment should never grace a burger? Olives. Also hate those donut/burger abominations. But otherwise, anything goes!
What's the best burger you've eaten this year? It's a toss up between the Big O at Oscar's and the four-cheese burger at Elsa's on the Park. The Big O had fantastic chorizo and guacamole as toppings and a great fluffy bun. Elsa's cheeseburger has a ton of gooey cheese and a truly succulent patty. Both fantastic in different ways.
What's the most unusual burger you've ever eaten? Probably the Sloppy Egg cheeseburger from Murf's Custard. Basically a cheeseburger, but with fries, cole slaw, and a sunny side up egg on top. Unfortunately, it wasn't very good.
What's the most overrated burger you've tried? Most underrated? Overrated is a tie: Solly's, because I just don't get the plate of melted butter thing and I have no nostalgic connection to it; and Northpoint Custard, because it doesn't remotely live up to the Bartolotta reputation or awesome location. Underrated: Stack'd. There hasn't been much buzz about them lately, but they have great burgers, some of the best onion rings I've ever had, and awesome (alcoholic!) shakes.
Imagine that for some crazy reason, you're going vegetarian. Where do you go for your final burger? Kopp's. It's a childhood thing. Must also get fries and a hot fudge shake, or grasshopper fudge custard if that's the flavor of the day.