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Shake Shack by the Numbers
ShakeShack

Culinary boss Mark Rosati shares what’s in the secret sauce of Shake Shack’s global success.

On one hand, you could say that Shake Shack started humbly as a hot dog cart that transformed into a 400-square-foot kiosk at New York’s Madison Square Park. On the other hand, this is restaurant magnate Danny Meyer’s burger joint. So in the beginning, ingredients were prepped at fine-dining palace Eleven Madison Park (which Meyer owned at the time) and wheeled into Shake Shack.

More than 12 years since its not-so-humble birth, Shake Shack is a publicly traded international phenomenon with outposts in London, Moscow, Istanbul, Tokyo, Seoul, and Dubai. There is also a new book, Shake Shack: Recipes & Stories (Clarkson Potter), that traces its origins and underscores how this singular fast-food chain filters the idea of a roadside burger through a gourmet lens. Over the years, there have been collaborations with prominent chefs, including Marc Vetri, April Bloomfield, David Chang, and Daniel Humm (who shaved black truffles all over his $8.50 burger, profit margins be damned, for Shake Shack’s 10th anniversary).

See Shake Shack by the Numbers [click to enlarge]

“For us, it’s all about fun first and foremost,” says Shake Shack culinary director Mark Rosati, who coauthored the book with CEO Randy Garutti. “We like to ask our friends in the business and people we’ve admired to add to the dialogue of what Shake Shack is.” Rosati wants you to be part of the dialogue as well. His book doesn’t reveal butcher Pat LaFrieda’s Shake Shack burger blend, but it offers tips on how to grind brisket, chuck, and short rib into something that Rosati swears is “very close.” (Using really cold meat is key.) The point is finding your own way. “There’s a road map,” Rosati says. The proper way to season it, to buy your burger blend, to put your spin on it—that’s important.”

Even when Shake Shack has gone global, it’s kept things local: In Tokyo, Shake Shack served a limited-edition burger created by chef Zaiyu Hasegawa with double-smoked bacon, red miso sauce blended into Shack sauce, sansho pepper and pickled cucumbers. Hasegawa, who earned two Michelin stars for Tokyo’s Jimbocho Den, was a big fan of Shake Shack who contacted Rosati on Instagram. The rest is history. Italian chef Massimo Bottura is another Michelin-starred culinary force who reached out to Rosati, which resulted in Bottura and Shake Shack collaborating on Parmigiano-laced burgers with salsa verde and balsamic mayo in New York and London. There’s a recipe for that in the book.

“If more people cook this kind of food at home and keep asking for better ingredients, it’s a win for all of us,” Rosati says.

Ingredients

  • Canola oil for deep-frying
  • 1 pound frozen crinkle cut fries
  • Kosher salt

There are many easy steps to transform Yukon potatoes into their friable state. When you’re ready to fry your crinkle cuts, here’s a simple way to do it. We like to fry our potatoes in two batches to maintain the temperature of the oil.

  1. Pour the oil into a heavy, deep pot to a depth of 4 inches. Heat over medium-high heat until the temperature of the oil reaches 350°F on a candy thermometer.
  2. Use a wire spider or slotted spoon to carefully lower the frozen fries into the hot oil. Deep-fry until they’re deep golden brown and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the fries to paper towels to drain. Salt and serve immediately.

Make Your Own Fry-Ready Crinkle Cuts

  1. Peel potatoes, and submerge in a bowl of cold water to keep them from turning brown.
  2. With the crinkle cutter, cut the potato lengthwise into ½-inch slices.
  3. Cut each potato slice lengthwise into ½-inch-thick fries.
  4. Rinse the fries in cold water, then simmer over medium heat until just tender.
  5. Transfer the boiled fries to a wire rack to drain and cool. Pat with paper towels.
  6. Pour canola oil into a heavy, deep pot and heat until 350°F. Working in batches, fry until potatoes are pale gold and tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain.
  7. Spread the fries on a baking pan and freeze to wick remaining moisture. At this point, they can be frozen in a plastic bag for future frying.
  8. Fry in batches in canola oil at 350°F until deep golden brown and crisp. Drain and salt.

Andy Wang

Andy Wang, a former real estate and travel editor at the New York Post, has written regularly about L.A. food and nightlife for publications including the New York Observer and Los Angeles magazine. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, Vegas magazine, Ocean Drive, Condé Nast Traveler, Yahoo Travel, and Epicurious.

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