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This Chef Sculpts Burgers as Art

A 'Saved by The Bell' replica restaurant serves burgers for the serious connoisseurs.

by Benoit Palop
Dec 23 2015, 7:32pm

All images courtesy the artist

In a replica of Saved By The Bell’s cafe designed by Outside iN Design, the infamous Philadelphia PYT doughnut-­burger shop makes it entrance to the New York foodie scene. Surrounded by the sitcom ­inspired decor,  #foodporn connoisseurs can partake in their many signature sculpture-­style creations.

Located on the Bowery in Downtown New York, PYT manager Tommy Up and chef Kim Malcolm bring a strong savoir ­faire with out-­of-this-­world creations inspired and named by pop culture phenomenons like their Birdman Sammy, Drake Steak, Pickleback Burgers or their Basquiat Prime Beef burger. The Creators Project checked in with Tommy Up about their Bowery location and the creative process behind their edible sculptures:

The Creators Project: Can you explain your special relationship with burgers and how this became a passion for you ?

Tommy Up: The burger as a canvas has some built in limitations. The limitations are what makes it a challenge and also provide basic direction: like constructing a haiku. There needs to be a bun, there needs to to be a patty and there needs to be first the immediate visual appeal as seen on the plate and then, finally, the first bite is the revelation of the whole burger. 

10 Stack Bacon Wrapped Patty Burger 

After the success of the Philly­ PYT, why did you decided to make your way to NYC ? 

We spent seven years in our hometown of Philadelphia playing with food. Our burgers hit a chord and many of our customers were coming from NYC to experience our burgers. NYC is only 99 miles away and it's the greatest stage in the world. 

Tell us about the Basquiat Prime Beef burger ? 

One of the reasons we chose the Bowery is it's artistic heritage. Basquiat's work has always been an inspiration, and I found out after we secured the space that he lived around the corner and his old apartment is actually the current home of Japan Premium Beef; sellers of the highest grade Wagyu in the country. I asked their team what they would use for a burger at home with friends if price was no object and they handed me with a 25% fat pure wagyu rib eye that they said no restaurant has ever served. Hence the Basquiat Premium Beef Burger. It tastes like great music sounds.

pbj burger

Can you give us some details about your creative process and how do you create new recipes ?

Our burger ideas usually start as an expression of appreciation towards our favorite music artists, films or such: The Drake Steak, or the Fetta Wap & Pomegranate Pizza or the The Birman Chicken & Waffle sandwich. It's a way to say thank you to people or works that inspire and excite us.

What's next for PYT NYC? 

We are now making pizzas in a wood­fired oven and using a very traditional pizza base from "00" Caputo Flour  and kitchen-made mozzarella, and using that traditional base for some crazy new pizzas that are sure to pissoff pizza purists­ and yet delight the open minded customer. Burgers and pizza are our future. ­­­

Pickleback burger

Learn more about Manhattan’s PYT location on 334 Bowery.

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