Matt Adler Talks Throwdown Side Bets, His All-Time Favorite Burger & Coors Banquet Beer
There’s less than a week to go until the first-ever Burger Days Burger Throwdown and we couldn’t be more excited. On Sunday, seven of the D.C.-area’s finest burger battlers will meet at The Commodore Public House & Kitchen for an epic, greasy clash of the titans and it’s going to be AMAZING.
Because we just can’t get hyped enough, in the final days before the meaty melee, Burger Days caught up with each of the competitors and chatted about trash talking, burger turn-ons and how they are planning and preparing for the event.
For our first Q&A session, we chatted with Matt Adler, executive chef of Osteria Morini. Adler brings some serious burger cred to the Throwdown – his White Label burger was one of the best we ate in 2015, winning our coveted Burger Days Burger of the Year award, not to mention he’s a veteran of the burger battle scene, pretty much owning Brainfood’s annual competition the past two years.
This is one in a seven-part interview series with the competitors in the 2016 D.C. Burger Throwdown taking place Sunday, May 15, 2016. Additional interviews will be linked here as they are published: Matt Adler, Scott Drewno, Travis Weiss, Alex McCoy, Ryan Hackney.
Executive Chef, Osteria Morini
You’re a past winner of burger-cooking competitions, do you have any secrets on how you prepare for these events?
No, we’re going with our standard White Label burger. We feel it’s an excellent burger and we shouldn’t make any alterations.
Do you and your team get hyped up for events like this or, since you’re all vets at this thing, do you just go in there and wing it?
[Laughs] Nah, we’re just going to go in there humble. We know we have an excellent product and try to have a good time. We know it’s for a great cause — I’m very excited about it.
Who Is your biggest competition in the Throwdown, or better yet, who are you most looking forward to taking down?
Have you been trash talking with any of the other Throwdown competitors?
Yeah, a little bit. We’re not trying to be arrogant or anything but we’re talking a little bit of shit.
Any side bets?
Yeah, we’ve all got one going on where everyone brings a good bottle of whiskey and winner takes all.
How many burger-cooking competitions have you competed in before?
This is my third but the White Label burger has been in many over the years.
What’s the key to a great burger? What’s the one thing that can make or break it?
It’s all about the meat. Starting with real high quality meat. If you don’t have that, you’re never gonna be successful.
What’s your preference: big, thick, ½ pound patties or diner-style, smash-griddled patties?
I like all burgers. It’s more of the mood I’m in and what I’m working with. I slightly prefer the diner-style but I love them all.
Ketchup on a burger. Yes or no?
Depending on the burger. If I’m eating a chef-driven, high-quality, composed burger, I want to eat it the way they intended it. If I’m going to Five Guys, I’m probably going to put a little ketchup on it.
What’s your go-to temperature for a burger?
For the dry-aged meat, I prefer it a little closer to medium because you need to render the fat out a little bit. That’s where a lot of that flavor comes from. If I’m eating a nice, big, good-quality short rib blend, eight-ounce burger, I’ll go for medium rare.
What’s your favorite burger in the D.C. area, outside of your own, of course?
That’s a good question. Partisan’s got a good burger. They’ve got a nice dry-aged burger.
What’s the best burger you’ve ever eaten?
In-N-Out Double-Double, Animal Style. It’s delicious.
If you were building a burger from scratch to eat, what’s your favorite cheese?
I’m an American cheese guy, for sure.
Say you were going to Five Guys, what are your go-to burger toppings?
American cheese, lettuce, tomato, a little bit of onion. I’m good with that.
What’s the best beer to have with a burger?
I am not a fancy beer drinker, whatsoever. I’m a big fan of Coors Banquet beer and PBR. I like fancy whiskey and cheap beer.
Fries or tots?
Fries. I do love a good tater tot but with my burger, I want some fries.
Burger Days started with a group of us going out and eating burgers all day long in an effort to discover all the burgers in the D.C. area. The most we’ve ever done in a day is seven or eight. My question to you, what’s the most burgers you’ve eaten in a day?
Besides going to White Castle, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten more than two burgers in a day.
And finally, is there anything you would like to say to your Throwdown competition?
The 2016 D.C. Burger Throwdown is this Sunday, May 15, from 3 – 7 p.m. at The Commodore Public House & Kitchen. Tickets are available at bit.do/bbthrowdown.