Richard Chudy and Sam Monsour Buck Convention With ‘American Burger Revival’

The staid burger category gets a much-needed injection of wit and expertise in the Boston chefs' debut cookbook.

american burger

Photo via Union Park Press

If you thought constructing a decent burger involved nothing more than buying a pack of buns and throwing a thawed patty on the grill, well, you’re at least half wrong. But to forge a truly memorable burger experience, you’re going to have to get creative. That’s where chefs Richard Chudy (The Skinny Beet) and Samuel Monsour (The Future of Junk Food, JM Curley) come in.

On May 18, the two chefs will release their first cookbook, American Burger Revival: Brazen Recipes to Electrify a Timeless Classic (Union Park Press, 2015), which goes into depth on that most American of foods, the hamburger. Their comprehensive tome covers everything from different cooking methods (yes, even sous vide and smoking), to baking homemade buns (mashed potato and gravy rolls anyone?), to building an arsenal of scratch-made condiments (Sriracha ketchup? Pssh! How about balls of deep fried ketchup.). And unlike most burger cookbooks, Chudy and Monsour’s treatment takes a far more informative, innovative stance that transcends the typical top-down approach.

Anyone can throw a mishmash of toppings onto a slab of meat and bun—and even though American Burger Revival has more than 30 recipes for condiments alone—that’s not the point here. Monsour and Chudy dissect the entire burger-making process in a fun and fearless guide that’ll have you rethinking its stature as a fast food staple.

american burger

Chef Sam Monsour slices some tasso ham. Photo via Union Park Press

With 120 recipes, Monsour and Chudy prove to be expert instructors, using wit, candor, and even a pinch of salty language to illustrate the countless possibilities inherent in the generic meat/bread/cheese formula. Take for example their “Meat of the Matter” chapter that not only tells you which grinders to buy and how to form the perfect flat patty, but also breaks down the alchemy of different beef grinds using the analogy of former NBA players like Scottie Pippen (25% hanger steak, 25% flank steak, 50% ribeye cap) and Charles Barkley (50% sirloin, 50% chuck). Or flip through their “Junk Drawer” section, a personal favorite of both authors, and see how to up the ante with sous vide egg yolks, chicken fried pork belly, and curly fries seasoned with Citra hops.

Appearing alongside all their unique recipes (Kool-Aid pickles, miso curry mayo, and 11-hour corned beef hash, to name a few) are what Monsour and Chudy call their “centerfolds”: seductive burger concoctions that showcase different homemade cheeses, breads, and sauces seen throughout the book. American Burger Revival is equal parts Lucky Peach and coffee table eye candy, with a foundation of irreverence and expertise that’ll inspire you to get in the kitchen.

Samuel Monsour is an award-winning chef, writer, and food activist. He is the co-creator of the nationally renowned pop-up series The Future of Junk Food and has appeared on several reality cooking television shows. Richard Chudy is a chef, food writer, cooking instructor, and the creator of Boston Burger Blog, where he’s reviewed over 160 burgers from around the Boston-area. His work has been featured in The Boston GlobeMise magazine, Gather Journal, and NPR.