The Publican’s Brian Huston Adores Diner’s ‘Hot and Juicy’ Burger and Fries

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Diner's burger and fries. Photo: Melissa Hom

Each week on the Food Chain, we ask a chef to describe a dish he or she recently enjoyed. The chef who prepared the dish responds and then picks his or her own memorable meal. On and on it goes. Last week, Blue Bottle Café's pastry chef, Caitlin Freeman, found ham perfection at Chicago's the Publican. Now it's time to see what the Publican's chef de cuisine, Brian Huston, has enjoyed recently. Take it away, Brian.

Who: Brian Huston, chef de cuisine at Publican, Chicago
What: Burger and fries
Where: Diner in Brooklyn

"I had an amazing burger and fries at Diner in Brooklyn. It had a great burger-to-bun ratio, and it was hot and juicy. But there was something else. I don't know, maybe it was the company, maybe it was just the atmosphere in the dining car, but it felt like the perfect place to eat that specific food just like eating seafood in the Mediterranean. You know, it's like, Why can't I always eat my burgers in Brooklyn?"

Diner chef Sean Rembold responds:
"Essentially, since were utilizing whole animals that we bring in from our butcher shop, Marlow & Daughters, a lot of times whats being ground is the scrap the trimmings from other cuts of meat. If you come in Tuesday, it might be an animal from upstate New York; or if you come in Friday, it might be from Vermont or Pennsylvania. I know farm-to-table is out of style, but we do try to operate under that. Also, a lot of the meat is dry-aged here at our butcher shop, so it will have that aged-steak flavor. A lot of times its aged for a week before it arrives, and then another three to four weeks here. It doesnt hurt that we sell a lot of burgers daily, so the grind is always fresh, ground that morning. Everything else is pretty simple. We make our own mayonnaise; were using salt and pepper there are no bells and whistles attached.

The buns are from Amys Bread. We do toast them. We toyed around with brushing them with butter, but we decided wed rather have a higher fat content and just kind of toast them without butter. The fat content is something were always working with. Animals tend to be leaner certain times of year. Were just kind of always eyeing it and toying with the fat-to-protein ratio. And then the fries are really amazing potatoes were able to obtain from Sheldon Farms [upstate] or Lancaster Co-op in Lancaster, Pennsylvania."