There are few things in the world I love more than a good old-fashioned celebrity collaboration (just look how inspiring these Taylor Swift greeting cards are!). One of those things I love more is a cheeseburger. When the two are combined, the end product becomes a consumerist tour de force—one that I’m more than willing to shake fistfuls of dollar bills at until it’s in my mouth.
A few months back, Mindy Kaling participated in Umami Burger’s Artist Series—where $1 from each burger sold goes to the charity of said artist’s choice—and hit a home run so deep I thought it wouldn’t be bested for a long while. Her burger sported pickled jalapeños, fried onion strings, and sriracha aioli atop the beef patty, injecting a much-needed dose of fire into Umami’s menu. But then Alton Brown came through this month with a decidedly maximalist burger that made me binge-rewatch Good Eats on Netflix. I’d recommend it; it’s a good time.
Brown, who was born in L.A. but grew up in Georgia, created a scienced-up ode to breakfast in a bun. Let’s break this down part by part: There’s lardons—aka thick cubes of bacon—studding the ground beef patty. Great start. Then there’s the cheesy tots on top. Normally, I would be critical of adding starch between two starchy buns—but this isn’t normal. The tots are a cheeky nod to breakfast hashbrowns; the cheesiness adds your requisite dairy; the additional carbs mean more flavorful ingredients can be tacked on while still maintaining balance.
Speaking of additional ingredients, there’s miso maple bacon. Do you taste the miso? Not at all. Do I respect that it’s on brand for both Brown and Umami? Yes I do. Though Jonathan Gold might be an egg-on-a-burger curmudgeon—and he definitely has a point—when it comes to intentionally overcrowded breakfast burgers, an oozing yolk is a must. For how I feel about the coffee ketchup, reread the miso maple bacon description, but swap the words “miso” and “coffee.” But the best thing about this burger, and perhaps the Alton Browniest ingredient on there, is the fried sage. Everyone knows that sage is the single most prominent flavor associated with breakfast sausage. The second? Maple, which is already accounted for with your bacon.
This philanthropic beast of a burger tastes like you took an entire breakfast combo plate from a diner, added a few dashes of science-y TV magic, and painted a masterpiece with it using ground beef as the canvas. I’m impressed Alton. I’m real impressed. The burger is available at all Umami locations until April 24th and $1 from each sale will go towards the Make-A-Wish Foundation.