We just concluded our pop-up to go burger night here at F&M in celebration of our Northern Virginia Burger Wars win with all proceeds going to the Fauquier Food Bank. In two hours you ordered and we served 126 burgers with 38 being doubles—164 total patties—on top of 55 crispy and 23 loaded potatoes. All considered after costs, this community raised $2000.00 for the Food Bank ($1950.95 actually, but we’re gonna call it an even $2k). Thank you so very much for your continued and inspiring support!!!
In the afterglow of such an experience, I am prompted to reminisce about the Ooomami Burger’s start and I thought I would share that story with you. It was a Saturday night in late 2019 and the kitchen was barely staying ahead of the tickets pouring out of the printer. At a pivotal moment two burgers were sent back for being over-cooked. The remakes backed up service. This prompted a desire to re-imagine our burger. We had two cooks on the culinary team at the time who were passionate about burgers and their enthusiasm informed what would become the Ooomami Burger.
During this period, Korey, our Sous Chef, who had a tattoo of a burger and fries on his forearm passed away unexpectedly. His loss galvanized the F&M team around our shared grief and a new purpose: to “Kook for Korey”. To empower this purpose, I engaged our team by soliciting their input on the burger project. Debates raged about the qualities of the best fast-food burger, the best gourmet burger, the best burger period. We spent months testing ideas and refining the burger.
David, the other cook with a PhD level of burger knowledge, lobbied for a smash burger, which I was in support of as a response to the mis-temped burger issue. He soon zeroed in on a concept pulled directly from the F&M brand: comfortable & refined. This is the balance we always aim to strike. Elevating and refining one of the pinnacle comfort foods – a fast-food smash burger – seemed just right.
Unfathomably, we also lost David just two years later, within a week of the anniversary of Korey’s passing. Both of our burger afficionados were young, vibrant, talented chefs that left the world far too soon. Their contributions to Field & Main were many, not the least of which was their input into the creation of the Oomami burger. The experience of competing in the Burger Wars these last few weeks brings their memory front and center for me and for that alone I am grateful.
One of my strongest memories during our many months of burger R&D, were the variety of smash tools including my favorite, a mason’s trowel. We debated the toppings endlessly—one cook would not stop advocating for arugula. In the end, I wanted a burger that was craveable. I wanted a burger that could be made year-round and was not dependent on seasonal produce. I wanted a burger that no one else was making. I wanted a burger that made you say, ooo mommy that is good!
At this time, Joffre, who today is our Chef de Cuisine, was working on a bacon jam condiment. It was sweet and savory. I wanted to add more umami to the burger as umami with sweet equals deliciously craveable. We tried soy sauce but in the end selected pickled shiitakes. When ground into the bacon jam and then smashed into the burger, the result was a sweet, savory, salty, umami bomb that had addictive properties. We added texture through onions. The richness of the condiment needed a brightness for balance so we added a dash of pickle juice while the onions were cooking to steam them a bit. Topped with “refined” white American cheese and locally sourced ground wagyu beef from Ovoka Farm, the burger was nearly finished. There was never really any question that it would be served on a Martin’s potato roll. The potato roll is the best option for this type of burger and nothing else compares. It is light and smashable and delicious. A smear of mayonnaise was added to help meld the flavors together and by February 2020 the Oomami Burger was born.
The timing was quite fortuitous as a month later the COVID Pandemic hit, shutting down indoor dining. The Oomami Smash Burger instantly became one of F&M’s best selling To Go sandwiches and helped us to continue supporting local farms, feed our community and keep our team working.
When we re-opened for inside dining and the menu shifted back to plated appetizers, entrees and desserts, the Oomami Burger remained on the menu as it does to this day. Guests enjoy them split in two as part of their appetizers. Others pop into the bar to have one with a draft beer for a quick dinner. Groups have requested them as sliders for a passed hors d’oeuvres for their wedding. The Oomami Burger is one story of many that showcases the mission of F&M which is to use food and drink to build connections that foster community. The community that developed this burger and the community that supports it are why the Oomami Smashburger was able to topple a nationwide chain and many other wonderfully deserving burgers to win the Northern Virginia Burger Wars. The same community that came out again tonight in support of the Fauquier Food Bank and raised $2000 in two hours. What else can one say, except ooo mommy!