Q&A with Chef Adam Fleischman of Umami Burger

Celebrity Chefs, Chefs, Meet

Adam Fleischman, the chef behind Umami Burger restaurants and UMAMIcatessen, understands the power of the “fifth taste.” His restaurants have gained a devoted following since the first opened in 2009, thanks to Fleischman’s passion for exploring the science of flavor.


Summer is here, and we’re ready to grill — and Fleischman is the perfect person to inspire us along the way. After he shared two exclusive recipes with Williams-Sonoma this month, I asked him to share some of his insights about burgers, umami and flawless flavor.


Q: How did you become involved in the food business? And why burgers?

A: I have always loved eating and wine. I chose burgers because they pack a lot of flavor into a small package — and they have lots of umami.


Q: Why do you think Umami Burger has been so successful? How many restaurants are open now?

A: We have nine restaurants. I believe they are successful because of our new spin on a classic dish. We’re looking forward to the future for a new generation of eaters.


Q: How is the concept behind Umami Burger different from other burger restaurants?

A: We focus on the fifth taste.


Q: What gives a burger the “umami” quality?

A: The seasonings we make, the ingredients we select and the techniques we use.


Q: What are your ideal burger toppings? How do you feel about condiments?

A: Mushrooms and pickles. I like a little bit of condiments, but nothing too overwhelming.


Q: How do you come up with new flavor ideas?

A: Though brainstorming and eating around the world.


Q: What’s the inspiration behind the recipes you developed for Williams-Sonoma

A: I was inspired by the flavors and smells of a backyard barbecue.


Q: Any expert burger-making or grilling tips?

A: Always have enough firepower. Cast iron is key.


Q: You started out as a wine guy. What do you drink with your burgers at a cookout?

A: Rosé from Provence, a great Syrah or Zinfandel.

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