Made For Bulleit, January 2016
From food truck beginnings to a fully–fledged restaurant, between the buns of this perfect burger lives a love story
Throughout history, there has been many a great feat performed in the name of love; wars have been started, thrones have been given up and monuments erected. In Louisville Kentucky, there’s a humble tale of the heart that is also worthy of some time in the sun: a story about a man, his muse and a quest for the perfect burger. I mean, if this story isn’t emblematic of true love in 21st century, I don’t know what is.
Grind Burger’s Liz and Jesse Huot converse like a game of ping pong, finishing each other’s sentences, joking around and smiling at each other’s in-jokes when they think none of us are watching – they’re cute, but not cutesy, a well-balanced partnership that clearly just works. Their restaurant is one of Louisville’s favourites and it’s grown from a humble food truck into an institution. In fact, when we meet, the duo tell us they have outgrown their current venue and are preparing a move to a bigger location downtown.
Now, sure, this restaurant is good. Really good. But that’s not the story I want to tell – you see, Grind Burger started from a single burger patty with one intention: pleasure. When the Huots met, cooking was Jesse’s biggest passion, and cheeseburgers, his favourite dish. Liz, however, was an ex-vegetarian and didn’t dig beef at all. So, determined to get Liz to want to share a cheeseburger with him, Jesse spent a year perfecting the patty that would win her heart (and tastebuds). “She was really picky about beef,” he says with a smile. “So in order to get her to eat cheeseburgers, I had to… well, I just bought pretty much every bit of beef I could find, ground them up individually and cooked and trialled them.” Jesse continued to experiment with different cuts, meats, muscle, fat percentages, trims and so on, until he had crafted a blend that Liz would fall in love with it. Of course, she did.
For Liz and Jesse, food is a constant in their relationship, it’s the first thing they bonded over, the gamble they gave up their day jobs for, and the entity that gives their lives a sense of freedom. Believe it or not, their wedding anniversary just so happens to fall on national Cheeseburger Day, which is entirely accidental, insists Liz. While it seems pretty crazy to place all your bets on a cheeseburger built on love, it’s still the same recipe that is served up daily. And it’s delicious.
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Made For was a branded content series for Bulleit Bourbon. Photography by Katrina Parker, video directed by David Child.