burger battle11
Image: David Reamer

Pomeroy’s chanterelle mushroom-topped burger.

Naomi Pomeroy

Chef/owner, Beast

For someone who’s made her reputation on meat, Pomeroy certainly spends a lot of time on garnish. While the rest of the kitchen balls itself into a fit of frenzy, she gracefully runs a massive sprout of fennel over a mandolin. Again and again. She’s in no rush. “This isn’t a competition, right?” she says, sipping a bottle of beer. She doesn’t mean it as a taunt, but considering her recent selection by Food & Wine magazine as one of the nation’s best new chefs, it could be.

THE PATTY: After gently forming the meat—Highland Oak beef bought at the Portland Farmers Market—into face-size mounds, Pomeroy covers it in salt to keep in the moisture, a maneuver that results in a buttery-soft mouthful of heaven.

SECRET WEAPON: “It’s all about crazy German condiments,” Pomeroy explains, nodding to a slender plastic bottle of Hela Curry Gewürz Ketchup. The spicy kick of curry adds a layer of subtle heat that good ol’ sugary American ketchup just can’t touch. And then there’s the mayo, a Swiss brand called Thomy that has a creamy consistency and comes in a toothpaste-tube container.

PRESENTATION: With a formidable burger hogging the plate—Pomeroy’s finishing move was a beer-washed Brewleggio cheese from Washington’s Estrella Family Creamery—she chooses a subtle accompaniment: a colorful salad of parsley, nasturtium flowers, fennel, and radishes.

REACTION: “Luxurious,” Whims sputters, temporarily at a loss for more words. “I can’t believe there’s no foie gras in here. It’s so juicy and moist.” Schroeder offers a little advice to Whims: “You could charge $27 for this in your restaurant, Cathy.” Which would still be a bargain.