Mathew Ramsey, self-proclaimed photographer/chef gone weird and creator of the popular website PornBurger, recently invited us into the kitchen to watch as he created the mouthwatering “Bill U Murray Me?” burger. Described as a “looker with a heart of gold,” this marvel of a burger is seared on the outside, medium rare on the inside with a molten core of melted cheese and creamy sous vide egg yolk and then stacked with shredded lettuce, bacon, quick pickled jalapeño, tomato, and a smokey thousand island dressing. Once you see it, in the words of the burger master himself, “you too may start Bill-ieving that crazy dreams do come true.”
They certainly did for Ramsey. After quitting his job as a video producer to pursue his other passion, cooking, he ventured off to culinary school. Then, just last winter, after hosting a dinner party for a few friends, Ramsey found inspiration in the dish he served–a venison burger paired with hunter sauce, later dubbed the “Bambi“–and embarked on a journey that began as a creative challenge he set for himself, but became so much more. Ramsey quickly created PornBurger as a platform to post his deliciously dubious creations with the goal of crafting one unique burger per week for the entire year. He saw the blog as an opportunity to combine his multiple talents and passions while stretching himself both creatively and culinarily. But these aren’t just any burgers. These are PornBurgers. And with names as cheeky as the burgers are appetizing, it begs the question–what comes first, the pun or the bun?
Turns out, ingredients are in the driver’s seat. The impetus of this whole experiment for Ramsey was the desire to get out of his wheelhouse, move beyond what he knows, and experiment. Whether it’s flavor combinations he’s never mixed or things he’s never tried, he’s getting his hands dirty with all aspects of ingredients and willing them into a burger.
At week 47 of the original 52 week challenge (and admittedly a few burgers behind), his latest creation is the perfect evidence of the delicious fruits of his labor. Perhaps his favorite so far, Ramsey has crafted the ultimate umami burger–but, naturally, what he’s calling the “Umilfy.” With ingredients like white miso and Parmesan bacon, black garlic aioli, and sauteed onions that have been marinated in Chinese black vinegars, he tells us its got everything you’d want in a burger–and leaves you feeling totally naughty and guilty.
And although the end of the year is rapidly approaching, fear not–Ramsey’s not going anywhere. He’s got a cookbook in the works and will soon be launching a new website that moves beyond burgers and features foodie filth across the board.
What started off as a year-long creative endeavor has evolved into a springboard for much more. From collaborating with gelato makers and scientists to opening up his home to 4-person supper clubs (not counting the empty seat that’s always reserved for Bill Murray), Ramsey is living proof of the magic in following your passion–and in his case, following it all the way down the rabbit hole. “It’s been incredible, and it’s changed my life,” he says.
His advice? “Go after it. Eat as much as you can. Tasting things that you normally wouldn’t eat expands your mind and gets you curious about different flavor combinations.”
Now that’s advice that’s easy to swallow. And here’s another tip:
Don’t miss the premiere of the three-night miniseries event, EAT: The Story of Food starting tonight at 9/8c.