Meet the chef behind The Menu’s delicious Slutty cheeseburger

spoilers for The menu ahead.

If you have seen The menu, You’re probably still craving that cheeseburger — that delicious nostalgia trip that Margot (Anya Taylor Joy) is the key to getting out of the film’s Dinner Out of Hell alive. She stumbles across an old clipping of Chef Julian (Ralph Fiennes), who locked down his rich and boring clientele for a tasting menu of increasingly humiliating and deadly content, in which he makes a cheeseburger as a young chef – a moment that looks back on a time when he really loved cooking and why he did it loved for so long before he started serving fancy dishes to fancy people. It’s the chef he misses. And it’s the chef she must bring back to survive.

director Markus Mylod structures The menu as a near-real-time dramatization of the dinner, meaning that we Fiennes et al. prepare, serve and eat the food course by course. Authenticity was the top priority. Mylod brought cook Dominique Crenn as consultants to design and create Julian’s brilliantly ridiculous menu. Then the cook came john benhase, a partner at Starland Yard in Savannah, Georgia to consult on the authenticity of cooking and serving. It’s his “kinky” cheeseburger recipe — the recipe that suddenly popped up on BuzzFeed and inspired countless burger orders upon viewing that pretty much trickled off screen — that Fiennes ended up cooking for The menu‘s delicious climax.

vanity fair I caught up with Benhase to find out all about this burger.

vanity fair: Thank you for taking the time to talk about your suddenly famous cheeseburger.

John Benhase: Who knew right? Just a cheeseburger.

Yes. I mean, to start with in general terms, how was it? Did people approach you? How did you rate the reaction?

I think more than anything, when I first saw it in theaters and heard the collective groans in that part of the film, I thought, ‘Oh yeah, people really like this. That’s good.” But I mean, it’s just a really good cheeseburger. It was fun to see it on BuzzFeed and stuff.

In relation to your involvement in the film, how was this project described to you and how strong was your commitment?

They needed some sort of culinary authenticity advisor. So my main job on film was making sure that all the actors and cast members and then the writers and the director had all the tools they needed to make sure they really looked like they knew what they were doing since the restaurant and kitchen are such an integral character to the film. So just make sure every single aspect was accurate and people knew how to move around the space properly and what they were cooking and why they were cooking it. Then the cheeseburger was a happy byproduct on set.

How so?

It was pretty random. I sat with the two writers in Video Village and they chatted about the burger. I’m sure Chef Dominique could have made the prettiest burger anyone has ever seen, but they wanted a sort of nostalgia—for lack of a better word, the sloppy burger. I probably spoke inappropriately, but it was a really wonderful collaborative team, so I felt comfortable with it and just thought, ‘Hey, I think if we make this burger this way, then it fits perfectly because it is is still such a process-driven burger.” It’s not about banging some patties on a grill and flipping them a few times. It can be this labor of love. That’s part of what makes it work within the film. And obviously too Ralph Fiennes does such a great job at it. It just looks like he’s having the best and most transformative time making that burger again.

Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. Meet the chef behind The Menu’s delicious Slutty cheeseburger

Charles Jones

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