In what seems like a rare-as-a-perfect-peach public-relations convergence, chef Spike Mendelsohn won this past weekend’s Hamburger Hop competition at Chicago Gourmet, in advance of the planned early-winter opening of a local branch of his hamburger spot, Good Stuff Eatery (22 S. Wabash Ave., no phone yet).
Mendelsohn, an alumnus of the Chicago–based season of Top Chef, opened the first Good Stuff in the Washington, D.C. area in 2008, the same year the show aired, and rode the TV-powered wave. “I did not really know the power of Top Chef, but [Good Stuff] became a success immediately,” he says. “Now we have nine restaurants—four done and five on the way.”
In addition to the soon-to-be-nine Good Stuffs, Mendelsohn has two other concepts in D.C.: We, the Pizza and the less-casual French-inspired bistro Béarnaise, introduced after the other two. “I became known as the burger and pizza guy, and maybe my ego couldn’t take it,” he says.
The menu for the fast-casual Good Stuff will hew to the model of the others, with hand-cut fries and a mayonnaise bar, milkshakes made from homemade custard (toasted marshmallow is popular, Mendelsohn says), and the burgers, including the Hop-winning Prez Obama Burger, with applewood bacon, onion marmalade, Roquefort cheese, and horseradish mayonnaise.
Yep, the Prez Obama Burger, winning a Chicago burger competition right before its restaurant opens. Like we said, it’s like a total solar eclipse of public relations.