How to Make the Cheesy, Bacony, Baguette-Sandwiched Father’s Office Burger
Chef Sang Yoon accepts no substitutions at his LA restaurants. Will you abide in your own kitchen?
Before chef Sang Yoon owned Father’s Office in Santa Monica, he was a regular there. At the time, the bar was one of the few places where you could get craft beer in the city. The problem? It didn’t have a kitchen.
“When I took it over in 2000, there were no gastropubs at the time or chef-driven burgers,” Yoon tells InsideHook. “I loved it, but it was just a small dive bar serving mainly beer. I wanted to serve food but keep it streamlined.” Drawing on years of working in fine dining, Yoon set out to create something unique that would work in the dive bar setting — and the restaurant’s now-signature Office Burger was born.
Along with the burger, he offered a series of Spanish tapas-inspired dishes, but it was the burger — no substitutions! — that put Father’s Office on the map, and arguably kicked off a trend of chef-driven burgers that remains a crackling competition. Even with all the acclaim, the Father’s Office burger has remained the same: baguette bun, dry-aged beef, caramelized onion, bacon, gruyère, blue cheese and arugula. Double cheese, no brioche, never a leaf of romaine, and certainly no ketchup. Although Yoon has since explained that their no-substitution policy was due to the tiny size of his kitchen and a lack of ingredients on hand, the hard-line policy helped other chefs adopt similar stances, too — eat the food how it comes, or go someplace else. People kept coming to Father’s Office, though.
Over the past two decades, the restaurant has become one of Los Angeles’ most beloved institutions, and with that kind of demand always comes the potential for expansion. After venturing into Culver City for a second location circa 2008, Yoon set his sights on the Arts District back in 2017, but it took until early 2020 for the long-awaited eastside location to finally manifest. Of course, a whole pandemic interrupted the new spot’s early progress, but as of November 2021, Yoon’s latest installment is back in business, grilling up burgers and cooking up plenty of other dishes for downtown’s foodie denizens.
The classic burger will always be on the menu, but Yoon also says he’s been “experimenting” with a new burger that would be “exclusive to the Arts District location of Father’s Office” and to “stay tuned.” In the meantime, how can you bring this chef’s burger skills into your own home? The answer is simple, really: just stick to Yoon’s well-balanced template, and make sure your beef is high-grade.
“I like a burger that’s simple and well edited, where each ingredient serves a purpose,” he says. “That and high-quality meat. When developing the Father’s Office burger, I was thinking of my favorite steak — a dry-aged ribeye from Peter Luger’s — and decided to dry-age our own beef. It’s a practice we continue to this day.”
While this month’s recipe doesn’t include instructions on how to dry-age beef, it’s got all the other information you need to recreate the Office Burger in your own home. Follow along for an impressive Friday night meal or the perfect lazy Sunday evening plate. And remember, in this instance, fries come separately.
Chef Sang Yoon’s Original Office Burger Recipe
- 2 pounds of ground beef chuck (Father’s Office dry-ages the beef)
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste
- 4 mini baguettes, split
- 4 ounces gruyère cheese, shredded (about half a cup)
- 4 ounces Maytag blue cheese, crumbled (about half a cup)
- 2 cups baby arugula
- 6 strips dried bacon
- 2 onions
- Vegetable oil
- Olive oil
For the compote:
Chop the onions into long strips. Slowly caramelize the onions in a mixture of olive oil and butter, about 1 teaspoon per onion. When they’re golden-brown and jammy, add the dried cured bacon.
For the patties:
Preheat a grill to medium-high heat and brush the grates with vegetable oil. Form the beef into four one-inch thick oblong patties and season to taste with salt and pepper. Grill four to five minutes each side for medium.
For the burger:
Toast the baguettes and brush with butter. Assemble the burgers on the baguette by topping the grilled patties with the gruyere, blue cheese, onion-bacon compote and arugula.
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