Dan’s Taste 2021 Chefs Countdown: Michael Puma, Gotham Burger Social Club

Michael Puma
Michael Puma

What started as a short-run burger tour with a few of Michael Puma’s close friends has since developed into The Gotham Burger Social Club and the lifestyle of incredible food, beef and spirits that comes with it. Puma will present some of the most flavorful burgers in New York City at Dan’s GrillHampton this August.

For tickets and more information on all Dan’s Taste 2021 events, visit DansTaste.com.

First word (or words) that comes to mind when you hear “Taste of Summer?”

Grilling at its best.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Nostalgic burgers I grew up on.

You can invite three people, living or dead, to your dinner party. Who are they, and what would that meal be?

Tom Hanks, Elvis and Frank Sinatra at an old-school red sauce joint. We’d start with antipasto and meatball, then move to linguine vongole and finish with veal parm.

What’s your favorite dish to prepare, and do you enjoy eating it as much as preparing it?

Carbonara—it’s so simple yet so easy to screw up. But when made correctly, it’s euphoric.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Never talk about money. Because the people who have less will hate you, and the ones who have more will laugh at you.

Share your funniest, most unforgettable or oddest kitchen incident.

I was just starting a pop-up early on, and I had a huge tray of sliced onions on the side tray of the grill. Well, five minutes into cooking the whole tray slid off and dumped onto the sidewalk. I looked up and saw everyone’s mouths drop and heard a gasp! Somehow we still pulled off the event using half of the onions that day.

Who do you most admire in the food/wine world and why?

It’s one of the few professions we do out of passion. I love how food connects us all.

What is going to be the “next big thing” on the East End food scene?

Hopefully a Gotham Smash!

What are your hobbies, passions and interests outside the world of food, wine and work?

I love to travel, but I’m also a creature of habit. I like revisiting places. There’s something so comforting about returning to a place thats familiar and the same people are still there and hearing, “Welcome back, Mike!”

What’s your comfort food and why?

Eggplant parm, because it will always remind me of my mother.

If you were not in the food or wine business, what would you be doing?

Advertising, marketing.

What is the most memorable thing you’ve ever tasted?

Snow beef.

What recent travels have you taken that have inspired you?

I got invited to Slovenia from a chef follower, at the time, on Instagram. He said I inspired his burger place. As I was very apprehensive, I was so intrigued and after meeting I decided to take the journey. Best trip ever and now he is one of my closest friends, and I have watched him grow his burger restaurant and now he owns a successful pizza place, too!

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Helping a few businesses survive the pandemic by doing pop-ups and bringing people out.

What’s a unique kitchen ritual you practice?

I really don’t have anything, other than I obsess over washing my hands.

What has surprised you the most about working in the East End culinary scene?

Hope much people embrace the food and wine scene.

What is your go-to karaoke song?

“Save the Last Dance” by Michael Bublé.

It’s your last weekend on earth—what’s the menu?

Meatballs from Carbone, kale salad from Barbuto, seafood salad from Raos, duck lasagna from Bowery Meat Company, linguine vongole from Emilios Balloto, prime rib from Keens, veal parm from Chef Vola in AC, box of pasty from Royal Crown, Cookie Puss ice cream cake from Carvel and lots of wine and whiskey!

We just handed you a glass of bubbly. Now please make a toast to summer on the East End.

Thank you all for coming out. I think we can all agree that after a year of this pandemic, the food and this Champagne tastes just a bit better tonight!

And to learn more about The Gotham Burger Social Club, visit gothamburgersocialclub.com.

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