When I was first contacted about the opening of the newest Bobby’s Burger Palace in Burlington, with the chance to meet Iron Chef Bobby Flay, I didn’t think much of it. I mostly expected to be lost in a sea of other burger fans and media people alike, maybe get a quick handshake from Chef Flay but nothing more than that. Leading up to the event I was approached again to see if I wanted to have a quick “q and a” before the doors opened to the general public at 5pm. I figured it sounded like fun so we headed off to the Burlington Mall on an absolutely freezing Sunday afternoon to chat with Bobby Flay. I’ve long admired Bobby Flay, respecting his cooking style and love of flavors from the Southwest. We were seated right by the window while a crowd of hungry burger fans waited in line, my head filled with millions of burger and cooking questions I wanted to throw his way. Humble and gracious, we talked for a good half hour before we shook hands and got ready for the press event to start. Along the way we discussed his passion for burgers, noting that it’s common among chefs post-shift to go for the burger versus “foie gras and caviar,” like some are led to believe. What he wants for Bobby’s Burger Palace, already in business for four and a half years in other locations, is to be a “casual concept everyone can understand and afford.” Ultimately that means a more toppings driven place opposed to something more oriented towards a unique beef blends. As much as he’d love to use a LaFrieda blend, it’s too inconsistent from one order to the next, Flay tells me, so using the same beef for all of his restaurants ensures the same burger each and every time. Being a young business ourselves we were curious how he keeps things consistent. Flay stresses that he almost always hires within and many of his employees have been working with him since the beginning. He also, contrary to popular belief, stops in all of his restaurants on a very regular basis, to further ensure the product is consistent with what he wants his staff to do.
What he really wants is for people to “crave” his burger. He thinks he can achieve that by cooking the burgers on a Flat Iron, maximizing the flavor which in turn “fortifies the fat and the burger.” Flay also notes that a “contrast in texture is as important as the flavor,” especially with such a toppings-driven approach to burgers. The beef is clearly a big player with his burgers, but a unique lineup of burgers ranging from the Napa Valley Burger (goat cheese, watercress, meyer lemon/honey mustard) to the Santa Fe Burger (queso sauce, pickled jalapenos, blue corn chips) make it interesting for everyone and the Burger of the Month is often a very exciting and globally inspired burger. I have my own thoughts about a toppings oriented burger place versus a completely meat-centric establishment, but his approach makes sense given the price point and the atmosphere, which is as fast-casual as it gets. His biggest burger pet peeve? Un-melted cheese. Flay can’t understand how someone can’t spend “the extra 60 seconds to melt the cheese,” a real deal breaker in his mind. At the end of the day, Flay wants Bobby’s Burger Palace to be a place that is affordable and enjoyable, offering something for everyone and delicious burgers to boot. I can’t say how much we appreciated the time he took to sit and talk with us, whereas it would have been just as easy to blow it off entirely. Flay is a very driven and genuine chef who truly stands behind his product in the most humble of ways. After our initial tasting of the burgers both at Mohegan Sun a few days prior and at the Burlington location, I can definitely recommend coming here, and I can’t wait to check back in again over the next couple of months.