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Burger Time

by Peter Proko

Celebrity chef Bobby Flay brings his fast-casual concept to Cherry Hill.

Bobby Flay is many things. Celebrity chef. Successful restaurateur. Food Network darling. Cookbook author. One thing he is not: lazy. Whether he’s judging culinary talent as host of The Next Food Network Star or busy in the kitchen at one of his six restaurants, Flay isn’t one for sitting still. Currently, he’s working on two new TV shows and his 12th cookbook. He recently announced that he would be opening an outpost of his Bobby’s Burger Palace in Cherry Hill, which is expected to start taking orders this month. Diners can expect cooked-to-order burgers with varying toppings, including the option to “crunchify” any burger—adding crushed potato chips atop the patty. It will be Flay’s second entry into the South Jersey market; his Bobby Flay Steak has been housed at the Borgata in Atlantic City since 2006. South Jersey Magazine talked with Flay in anticipation of his new venture and found out which burger suits him best.

SOUTH JERSEY MAGAZINE: What made you decide on Cherry Hill as the next location for Bobby’s Burger Palace?
BOBBY FLAY: With the success of the [Paramus] New Jersey and Philly locations, our customers were requesting Bobby’s Burger Palace to open here. We’re very excited to be a part of the community.

SJM: At some of the other spots, you feature a localized burger option. Since New Jersey is known for such great produce, will that be incorporated in any way?
BF: It certainly is known for exceptional produce. I’m playing around with some ideas to incorporate Taylor Ham into the menu. It’s certainly a possible Burger of the Month.

SJM: As a successful chef and restaurateur, what made you decide to get in the fast-casual business?
BF: I’ve always loved cheeseburgers since I was a kid. It’s my favorite thing to eat after a night in the kitchen. Ask any chefs what they want to eat after service ... It’s usually not foie gras, it’s a cheeseburger.

SJM: What’s your favorite burger on the menu and how do you order it?
BF: L.A. Burger [avocado relish, watercress, cheddar cheese and tomato], crunchified, cooked medium rare.

SJM: Everyone loves a good burger, but what goes into making a good burger great?
BF: Treating each component with the same thought and respect as any good sandwich … liberally seasoning the meat with salt and pepper as to get a great crust while cooking. It’s paying attention to the fundamentals that is truly important. Also, melting the cheese completely is an absolute must.

SJM: How much did you enjoy stepping outside the norm a bit by appearing on the final season of HBO’s Entourage?
BF: I was nervous, but they took good care of me. It was a really fun experience. It’s very different. I wasn’t a good actor then, I’m not a good actor now.

SJM: Being a celebrity chef, do you see a change in the way younger cooks are approaching the industry, as in they all have aspirations of being the next big star instead of the next big chef?
BF: Yes. Bringing food to all forms of media has gotten lots of people interested in becoming a star. I try to tell young cooks to learn to cook first, then they will realize that anything is possible.

SJM: What are the ingredients you absolutely couldn’t live without in the kitchen?
BF: Onions, garlic, black pepper, salt, chili peppers, mustard and honey.

SJM: If you were planning the ultimate dinner party and could only invite five people, who makes the guest list?
BF: Muhammad Ali, Marilyn Monroe, JFK, Julia Child and President [Barack] Obama.

SJM: With the upcoming opening and Bobby Flay Steak in A.C., do you plan on being in the South Jersey area a little more often?
BF: Of course! I love South Jersey.

Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 8 (November, 2011).
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