When you think of Chicago's three-Michelin-starred chef Curtis Duffy's menu, 'damn good burgers done right,' are not what you immediately picture. But extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.
At his new ghost kitchen, Rêve Burger, which opened a couple of months ago, Duffy's flipping burgers hard and fast. "Something that we've always enjoyed doing and eating is cheeseburgers. Why not do a cheeseburger in the times when people want comfort food?" Duffy told ABC7news.
Duffy joins a growing trend of Michelin-starred chefs pivoting to casual comfort food. Rene Redzepi opened a new burger joint, Popl, on the back of the sellout success he had pivoting to burgers at Copenhagen's Noma earlier last year. Three-Michelin-starred French chef Mauro Colagreco from the 'World's Best Restaurant', Mirazur, also recently opened a burger joint in Singapore.
Burgers also saved Duffy and his team when the pandemic came knocking at his newly-opened fine-dining restaurant, Ever. “The pandemic being what it is — the restaurant on pause, no return to 25% indoor capacity even being spoken about, and no answers from anyone in the local government — we pushed the button on Rêve,” said Ever partner and director of operations Michael Muser. “Ever To Go is doing just fine, but it’s not paying all the bills, and the financial gorilla in the room is staring at all of us.”
"I think a lot of people expected me to do a fancy, gourmet burger," said Duffy. "That's not exactly what I wanted to do." Instead, he's retained the fast-food style burger, complete with beef patties, American cheese, pickles, and a special sauce, sandwiched between a brioche-style bun in a number of combinations and additional toppings.
Forget soggy fries too, these ones won't lose their crunch. The fries are given a special potato-starch coating which means they retain their crispness even when reheated in the microwave. “When you go down the rabbit hole of components, my mind goes to what’s best after it sits in the car, steaming in the bag. This fry is supposed to outlast every other fry, and you can actually refresh the fry once you get it home,” chef de cuisine Justin Selk said in the Chicago Tribune.
A simple Rêve cheeseburger and fries sells for $16.95, delivered through apps like Caviar and DoorDash.
Rêve, which spells 'Ever' backwards, and means dream in French, is symbolic of how an industry has re-invented itself and keeps on pushing back against all the odds. Rêve will operate as a complementary business to Duffy's creative outlet at Ever.
Speaking about the new venture, Duffy said: "The feedback we get from the guests on a daily basis is really a beautiful thing to see. I just thought it was going to be a simple burger but it became a whole monster. A whole new restaurant."
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