The Story Behind the World’s Most Expensive Hamburger
Serendipity 3, a restaurant in New York City’s Upper East Side, last month unveiled Le Burger Extravagant, a $295 behemoth dressed with cheese flown in from England, Japanese Waygu beef, and a solid gold toothpick on top.
“May was National Hamburger Month, so we wanted to do something to celebrate the hamburger, which has become an American iconic food item,” says creative chef Joe Calderone, who thought up the burger. “So we thought, ‘What better way than to create the world’s most expensive hamburger and get a Guinness World Record?’”
All proceeds from the burger will be dedicated to the Bowery Mission, a charity in New York City that feeds and shelters the homeless.
The burger features a mix of Japanese Waygu beef infused with 10-herb white truffle butter; Montgomery cheddar cheese flown in from Somerset, England, and cave-aged for 18 months; shaved black truffles; and a fried quail egg. It is seasoned with Salish Alderwood smoked Pacific sea salt and served on a white truffle-buttered campagna roll. Finally, the burger is topped with a blini, crème fraîche, and Paramout Caviar’s K=kaluga cavier from a farm in Quzhou, China.
Le Burger Extravagant must be ordered 48 hours in advance, due to the far-flung ingredients that are flown in.
“Because we don’t do anything without some elaborate accoutrement on it, this burger has a solid gold-and-diamond-encrusted fleur de lis toothpick on it,” Calderone says. “When we presented it on the Today Show a couple to weeks ago to Kathy Lee and Hoda [Kotb], they loved the burger and they loved the bling on it, too.”
Serendipity 3 had multiple partners who helped bring the burger together and donate various components, including Euphoria New York, whose staff contributed time and talent to fashion the toothpick.
Calderone says he chose the Bowery Mission as the beneficiary because of his personal connection to the nonprofit.
“My first job in college was managing a bar/restaurant in SoHo, and I was a night manager, and at the end of the shift, I was appalled at how much food got thrown out as waste,” he says.
He tracked down the Bowery Mission and began personally delivering leftovers nightly, befriending the men and women who lingered outside.
“It became my first real, grown-up charitable thing that I did,” Calderon says. “Fast forward 30 years, and I’ve written checks to them over the years, but I really wanted to reconnect with them. So, I called them up and they were thrilled to be part of this.”
Serendipity 3 has a proven penchant for breaking records. It set a Guinness World Record in 2004, when it celebrated its 50th anniversary with a $1,000 ice cream sundae dubbed the Golden Opulence. It was served in a goblet lined with edible gold and with five grams of edible 23-karat gold.
By Sonya Chudgar