Meet Chef Jon Feshan as he shares his better burger with us! Jon Feshan brings over thirty years of experience, working with some of the best chefs in New York City to his role as Executive Chef at County, where he serves New American cuisine, guided by the core principles inherited from his Persian heritage: purity of flavor and using ingredients at their peak of freshness. Feshan employs fresh herbs and vegetables as the bass note to his dishes coupled with exacting technique to create a menu that is both light on the palate and deeply satisfying.
1. Tell us a little about yourself and why you love to cook!
I grew up in Iran and and come from a large family. Our family celebrations always centered around food and everything we ate was made fresh at home. We were not even allowed to have pizza growing up! I loved watching the cooks in my fathers restaurants. At home my Grandma always had me in the kitchen with her to keep an eye on me and keep me out of trouble.
2. Why are you participating in the Better Burger Project?
The James Beard Foundation is a great organization. Its a honor to be part of whatever efforts they are doing to help educate chefs and the public about sustainable and healthier options for our health and the planets health.
3. Tell us about your burger! What makes it “better”?
We have a Soy-Roasted Mushroom Burger. Its made with a mix Oyster Mushrooms and grass -fed organic beef, a mixture of chuck and short rib that we grind in-house. It’s ‘better because we use 50 mushroom mix so its much healthier than an all meat burger would be. We use grass fed meat so its healthier and better for the environment.
4. Why do you love to cook with mushrooms?
Mushrooms are very versatile and can be eaten raw or cooked. Each mushroom has its own flavor, but when seasoned creatively it can take on a life of its own. Roasting extracts a lot of the liquid and concentrates the flavor giving it a great meaty texture which is perfect for the burger burger challenge. A lot of our diners and staff couldn’t tell that half of the burger was made with mushrooms! (Not that we were trying to trick them)
5. Do you have a favorite summer memory with burgers?
When I first came to this country I lived in California and discovered In-N-Out Burgers! That was the first really good burger I had and will always taste like America and summer to me! A few years a go I did the Burger Bash in Brooklyn for New York Food and Wine Festival. It was a really hot, all the other chefs has created so many different kinds of burgers with lamb, veal, pulled pork. It was a great experience being with so many talented people and seeing how creative everyone could get with a basic burger.
6. What’s your favorite burger condiment?
I can’t pick just one! I love the classics with a twist–cheese, meaty applewood wood smoked bacon, Dill pickles we make in-house, lettuce, tomato, mayo, picked jalpeno slices are my favorite! and ketchup, of course. After you eat that burger you will need a shower its so messy, but so good!
7. Do you have any tips and tricks to grilling?
Keep the meat not too cold if possible so it will cook more evenly especially since our burgers tend to be thicker. You want the outside to have nice grill marks but the inside is not overcooked and dry or too rare. Try not to move the burger too much. With the mushroom mix like the better burger, there is a higher tendency for the burger to fall apart if you turn it too many times. I like to cook it 1/6 on one side until its set, then flip and cook it 1/4 on the other. The time depends on how you like your burger.
8. What sides would you recommend serving with your burger?
Truffle Fries or house made spicy paprika dusted potato chips!
9. Tell us a bit about your restaurant and cooking style.
County is farm-to-table New American Cuisine with global influences. We are surrounded by great restaurants with great chefs. I don’t think we are competing with them as much as we are doing the best food we can in our own way. My cooking style is influenced by chefs whose kitchens I have been privileged to work in (Jean Georges Vongerichten) – Asian, (David Burke) American and my own Persian roots. I think good food starts with the best ingredients and finding new ways to balance tastes, texture, spice, heat. Its not complicated food– a carrot should look like a carrot!
10. How did you get started in the restaurant/culinary industry?
I started cooking in one my dad’s restaurants. I was originally trained to do more front of the house work, but I found being in the kitchen fascinating. Seeing all the different foods being prepared, the smells and the tastes. I thought it was very exciting, like magic! One of my dad’s cooks found me loitering in the kitchen too many times and I told him that was where I wanted to be. I think he thought I am going to teach this kid a lesson– so had me wash a big basket of eggplant, then grill and peel it. It was hot messy and I probably wasn’t too fast. Maybe he thought I was going to give up, but I loved it! I love constantly learning about new foods and thinking of ways to prepare it so I am never bored.
11. What’s your favorite type of mushroom?
I love Maitake, or Hen-Of-The-Woods mushrooms! The perfume, aroma of it is just great. I love it grilled or sautéed, in a stew. Oyster and Chanterelles are also my favorites.