Sunday, February 24, 2008

Interview: George Motz

George Motz (film maker turned "burger expert by default") who's work has taken him from a James Beard nomination, PBS, LCD Soundsystem and too our delight his 2005 documentary film Hamburger America (its not that one on the Travel channel, its the one that is required viewing in a food course at Princeton and on the Sundance channel).

Here is a clip from Hamburger America about Bobcat Bite in Sante Fe, NM.

Next up is the book Hamburger America that is set for release in April and available here:

...features 100 of the best roadside stands, nostalgic diners, mom n pop establishments, and college town favorites - and tells exactly where to find them. You'll be inspired to jump in the car for a road-trip to visit any and all of these unique places. Help preserve our hamburger heritage - eat real burgers, visit real places.

And to sum it all up he recently started a blog: Hamburger America

George takes us up on some of our slowballs:

You obviously love a hamburger.  What got into your head to plunge into making a documentary and now a book?

Years ago my vegetarian wife saw a doc about hot dogs and suggested that I do a similar food doc.  I chose hamburgers.  Look what happened. I knew my aim was true when I read Schlosser's Fast Food Nation. Though we both believe corporate fast food has an evil side he totally scared the shit out of burger lovers across the land. I felt Hamburger America would set the record straight.

What Portland hamburger action do you have hiding in that book?

Giant in Lake Oswego, Stanich's in Portland, and Helvetia in wherever I was out there in the countryside.

How did you think those Portland hamburgers cook up against the rest  of the country?  Does Portland actually have a regional style?

They were all great (that's why they are in the book) and held their own against the rest of America.  The burgers at the three restaurants were all very different (and friggin' huge). I was glad to see Helvetia using the Pacific NWs regional curiosity 'goop' sauce on their burgers. No where else in America will you find good goop.

Did you notice any regional styles?

Oh yeah!  That's why I made the book (I also made the book as a guide to the thousands of burger fans that have emailed and texted me looking for burger guidance). The micro culture of steamed cheeseburgers (central CT) really knocked me over and the onion fried burgers of Oklahoma were amazing. Most burgers in LA are served wrapped in wax paper and burger without green chiles in New Mexico just ain't a New Mexican burger.

What was the strangest burger you came across?

There are so many strange ones out there but by far the weirdest was the Nutburger of Matt's Place in Butte, MT. The Nutburger is a classic, fresh-beef, thin patty on a white squishy bun that is adorned with a large dollop of salted sundae nuts mixed with Miracle Whip. WOW whata burger.

How about strangest/best/unique side order you came across?

At Shady Glen in Manchester, CT you can order a plate of fried, sliced, American cheese. It's served on a bed of lettuce and looks like a pile of yellow corn chips. Very strange, tasty, and not on the menu.

We get asked to do things like rank burgers (people love a list) and now we are going to put you on the spot.  How about a top 5 personal favorites nationally (no particular order)?

I'm not big on playing favorites, but I can give you 5 burger discoveries that I have made, 5 that you've probably
never heard of:

-The Nutburger at Matt's Place, Butte, MT
-The Pimento cheeseburger at Northgate Soda Shop, Greenville, SC
-The Heinniecheeseburger at Heinnie's, Elkhart, IN
-The King Size Beefburger at Top Notch, Chicago
-The hamburger at Nick's Hamburger Shop, Brookings, SD

1 comment:

The Hamzinger said...

Great post - thanks! And already have much love for his 3 portland picks.