"'The Menu' Cheeseburger" Has Audiences (And Me) Drooling All Over Themselves, And It Couldn't Be Easier To Make In Your Own Kitchen
It's the most beautiful burger I've ever seen, and as it turns out, it's also the most delicious.
As someone who a) writes about food for a living and b) can usually be found perched in front of his TV when he's not doing that, I literally jump for joy when food-centered shows and movies get released. Needless to say, when Searchlight's dark comedy The Menu was first announced in 2022, I just about fainted.
Now that it's streaming on HBO Max, I'm happy to report that the film surpassed my already-high expectations. But to be perfectly honest, I went to bed tossing and turning over something altogether unexpected after my initial viewing — something that had absolutely nothing to do with the extravagantly plated dishes, the stellar ensemble, or the objectively clever writing. The element of the film that's been living rent-free in my brain ever since? A cheeseburger. In the context of the movie, it brought a tear to my eye and a tiny, embarrassing droplet of drool to my lap, and I've been craving it ever since.
If you haven't seen The Menu yet, don't worry. I won't spoil anything for you about the significance of this burger. But let's just say that I'm not the only one who wanted to reach through the screen and grab that burger for myself.
The thirst — or should I say hunger — was real.
Like, it even had non-burger eaters talking.
So what did I do? I did what any ol' food writer would do, and I reached out to the film's studio to figure out how the hell they made a simple cheeseburger look this viscerally appetizing. Luckily for me, they were more than willing to share.
The set of The Menu was stacked with major players in the food world so the courses (and actors who "prepared" them) would look as legit as possible. Case in point: Michelin-starred chef Dominique Crenn worked with the team to bring the menu to life, and the creator of Netflix's Chef's Table, David Gelb, consulted with the filmmakers to create those impeccable shots of each course. The pro responsible for the burger, in particular, was Savannah, Georgia chef John Benhase, who is a partner at the street-food destination Starland Yard. And if everyone's collective cheeseburger frenzy is any indication, it's pretty evident that he knows how to make a great one.
Chef Benhase told BuzzFeed exactly how to make these mouthwatering burgers, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I've cooked them up multiple times since receiving the recipe. The exact number, however, I would be embarrassed to admit. They really are that good.
Here's how to make 'em just like they did on the set of The Menu.
First, the ingredients. Here's what you'll need according to the chef himself:
You'll also need two particular pieces of kitchen equipment: a heavy-bottom skillet that's not nonstick, like cast iron, carbon steel, or stainless steel; and a sturdy steel burger flipper. For the latter, the thinner the better.
STEP #1: If you have a vent over your stove, turn it on. You'll need it. You can even open a window! And if you just so happened to want to unplug your smoke detector for the time being, that also wouldn't be the worst idea. Just remember to plug it back in later.
Things are about to get a little smoky.