Love ‘em or leave ‘em, Ian Russo of Dirty Burger is making patties you’ve never tasted before.
Russo hopes people will love ’em at Great Burger Battle Aug. 14. He makes his burgers using a cooking style he invented about four years ago, which involves dipping the patty in a blend of spices he calls the “dirty dust” and adding honey at the end.
“The heat cancels the sweet and the sweet cancels the heat,” Russo explained.
Russo took a break from creating in the kitchen to discuss lamb burgers, hamburgers and the drive-thru experience that helped inspire his menu.
What’s it like for you being a finalist?
It’s unbelievable. It’s something that was organic. People voted and Long Island Pulse Magazine is huge. It’s incredible exposure just to be mentioned in the article and have the opportunity to win.
Was there a specific place you traveled that inspired your style?
Probably Roy Yamaguchi in Hawaii. I worked in Brussels in Comme Chez Soi. I think those two restaurants helped me learn how to combine flavors together.
What gave you the idea to steam the bun on the Dirty Burger?
About 15 years ago, I went through a drive thru and I had a McDonald’s cheeseburger. I loved that the bun was steamed and smashed and all the cheese stuck together. I thought that was delicious. In the Big Mac, the bun would just fall off. The flavors in the cheeseburger were actually better.
What’s your favorite burger on your menu and why should we love it?
The lamb burger. People always say it’s hard to get ground lamb and make it amazing. Our lamb itself is unbelievable. It’s done with an arugula truffle sauce and a Greek tzatziki sauce but we put dirty in it and call it Dirtziki sauce. It’s a composed burger. You can add whatever you want to some of the burgers on the menu, but this one is just heaven.
What do you like to drink with your burger?
An ice-cold beer. I could also do a shake if I was going for a salty-sweet taste.
Are there side dishes you really like having with a burger?
Dirty mac ’n cheese. We put breadcrumbs on top so when you’re eating the burger it’s got a little bit of texture and then the mac ’n cheese is creamy and crunchy. It’s amazing on top of the burger, too.
How do you like your chances at Great Burger Battle?
On a scale of 1-10, 10 is you’re definitely going to win, I think we’re 7 to 10. I just need to figure out what everyone else is making. Then it’s all going to be about execution on Aug 14. It’s got to be memorable.