Originally, Short Order, the burger place from the late Amy Pressman and Nancy Silverton (Mozza, La Brea Bakery) wasn't to be known as Nancy's place at all. "I was brought on as a sort of consultant for Amy," says Silverton, "but we're all now carrying on her legacy." Bill Chait (Bestia, Rivera, Picca, etc.) funded the place, and still runs it with chef Christian Page. We recently sat down with Page and Silverton to go over the history and current state of affairs at the Mid-City burger-centric joint.
How did Short Order get its start? Nancy: You mean way back, at the beginning? Well. There was a Los Angeles Times article that was published several years ago that had a photograph of me in my backyard grilling burgers. And it described how I liked to make my burgers and where I got the meat from (Huntington Meats) and the blend I liked and the toppings I served. And it got a lot of attention. Meanwhile, my close friend, Amy Pressman had wanted to open a diner sort of place, but wanted to serve burgers. And she asked me if I wanted to collaborate with her. But this was during the time I signed on to do Mozza, so of course I had no time. So I said I would sort of help her any way she wanted on the menu, as a consultant.
How did that go? Nancy: She'd bring burgers over to Mozza for me to taste, while I was making pizza or what have you, and sometimes she'd bring over the raw ingredients and we'd cook it together and taste and tweak. But Amy always wanted to do more of a diner, that's why it's called "Short Order." It's interesting, that I think, because of the time Short Order opened, it sort of got grouped in with all of these new burger places. But it was never supposed to be just a burger place.
How did you, Christian, get involved? Christian: Through Amy and Bill. Nancy: Christian was working with Bill at the time, at Test Kitchen, and sort of got recruited through people Bill knew and people I knew and he worked with Amy a little bit. But her passing was so sudden. We (Nancy and Christian) didn't meet until maybe a week before she passed. She knew she was sick, we all did, but we didn't know the severity of it, or how much we'd need to start picking up as time went on. Hiring Christian was a later choice that Amy made.
How has Short Order changed in the past year? Christian: Not too much has changed. Nancy: Can we look at a menu? Well, a lot of the non-beef burgers are gone. Christian: Really, just the pork burger is out. Nancy: Oh yes, so I see. The tuna is still on here, as is Ida's and Amy's of course. Christian: Except, we've changed the cheese. It's no longer Morbier -- Nancy: That's right. That was Amy's favorite cheese. Christian: Yes, we're using Raclette now. Other than that, we've kept the burgers the same. Nancy: We've added sandwiches, as a nod to what Amy always wanted to do, which was to have a real diner-style place.
What's your role, Christian, at Short Order today? Christian: I guess I'm sort of a reality check. I'm here all the time, so I know the customers and what's selling and what costs what. I keep an eye on all of that.
What's the most popular burger? Nancy: That's a good question. It's a tie. Christian: It's a tie. Between Nancy's backyard burger and Ida's Old Fashioned Burger. People like the mainstream options. Nancy: Amy's favorite combination was mushrooms and cheese.
Nancy, what's your favorite burger? Nancy: I like my burger cooked rare and charred. I like at least 30% fat. [Smiles broadly] I like it well-salted, or, I should say, properly seasoned. So then I like it with chipotle mayo, lettuce, tomato and Gruyère cheese.
What about you, Christian? Christian: It's on the menu, the commando burger. I, like Nancy, like it rare and charred and with at least 30% fat (which is what we do at Short Order). I like just the straight meat and a nice toasted bun. I like pickles on it too, sometimes, and if it's tomato season, tomatoes, and sometimes mustard and sometimes aged cheddar. That's what you'll get if you order it "chef-style."
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