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Three-Star Michelin Chef Opens New Burger Joint in San Diego

Brandon Rodgers of French Laundry, Benu joins with Brandt Beef for San Diego’s next big thing
Courtesy of Tanner's Prime Burgers

It’s difficult to overstate this. Also tough to bottle it up without missing the finer details. But let’s try this:

A three-star Michelin chef has opened a burger joint in San Diego. It’s called Tanner’s Prime Burgers.

Exclamation point. Another one. Some hyperactive emoji. Pass the fries.

The chef is Brandon Rodgers, who cut his teeth in San Diego years ago. He originally moved here to work with Tony DiSalvo, a nationally known chef who was heading up the former Jack’s in La Jolla. Rodgers then joined Gavin Kaysen at El Bizcocho (now Avant). He cooked on Iron Chef with Kaysen, and their team defeated Michael Symon in “Battle Octopus.” Rodgers then went to Napa, where he spent a year at the French Laundry and met fellow chef Corey Lee. He helped Lee open Benu, and the restaurant would get three Michelin stars with Rodgers as chef de cuisine.

Brandt Beef is the force behind this exclamation point. The family owned beef company in San Diego, with their headquarters above Ranch 45 in Solana Beach (their ranch is two hours east in Brawley). They’re pretty renowned in chef circles because of the ethos—a multigenerational family operation, treat their animals right, no drugs, no antibiotics, single-source beef, no B.S. Just a highly respected, small-ish operation in an industry that’s dominated by four major multinational beef companies. Tanner’s is named after Eric Brandt’s son.

So this week on HHH, David and I sit down with Brandon and Eric and hear the story. And we crush a burger made with New School American Cheese (you can hear about this project in last week’s episode with chef Eric Greenspan), some beef tallow fries (the best kind), an ice cream sandwich made with beef tallow and Brandon’s wife’s cookies.

It is a phenomenal burger. And Rodgers, Brandt, and Greenspan will be serving that burger, plus another specialty of Eric’s at the Del Mar Wine + Food Festival this weekend.

By Troy Johnson

Troy Johnson is the magazine’s award-winning food writer and humorist, and a long-standing expert on Food Network. His work has been featured on NatGeo, Travel Channel, NPR, and in Food Matters, a textbook of the best American food writing.

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