2750 Dewey Road, Building 193, Liberty Station
The 33-day Sriracha shutdown ordered by the California Department of Public Health on Huy Fong Foods in Irwindale caused a heated reaction by the owner of one southern California burger chain.
Slater’s 50/50, which has six locations including one in Liberty Station, has created a Sriracha burger that blends in the reddish-orange-colored Asian hot sauce with the chain’s trademark half-beef, half-bacon patties.
The pepper-sauce-soaked patty rests on Sriracha coleslaw and is topped with a Sriracha mushroom sauteé, pepper jack cheese, thick-cut bacon strips glazed with more Sriracha, Sriracha mayo and, finally, straight Sriracha on a brioche bun.
Slater’s 50/50 owner Scott Slater was hot for the idea since he first heard that Huy Fong been ordered to partially shut down while the Health Department investigates claims that spicy smells from its plant are irritating neighbors' eyes, noses and throats.
“I told our chef, Brad Lyons, ‘There’s going to be a shortage, so order a bunch and make a burger,’” he says. “We ordered every single bottle we could. The shutdown’s only for a month so I think we’re covered.”
The Sriracha burger is the latest specialty burger offered each month at Slater’s 50/50. Past burgers have been made with Korean bulgogi, kangaroo meat, and a meatball sub made from wild boar and pork.
But the Sriracha burger is personal to Slater.
“I fell in love with Sriracha during college about 10 years ago,” he says. “When you’re living on 25-cent burritos, Sriracha makes even microwave food tolerable.”
Huy Fong isn’t the only company that makes Sriracha, but it might as well be, according to Slater.
“The Sriracha they sell at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s is garbage,” he says. “I bought some at Trader Joe’s by mistake, put it on some eggs and threw it out right away. It was terrible. It’s like if I replaced Heinz ketchup with Hunts: I’d be crucified.”
Executive chef Brad Lyons said creating the burger was fairly easy, but the key was making not just making it “a ball of Sriracha.”
“I wanted to add some gourmet ingredients while still keeping it simple,” he says.
Stories of Sriacha packets being offered on eBay for $10,000 sound like worst-case scenarios (or fear-based marketing), but Lyons hopes that restrictions on Huy Fong’s Sriracha are lifted as soon as possible.
“If they’re not, we may have to try and make it ourselves,” he says.