Restaurants with Michael Klein
Tuesday June 24, 2014
1:48 Michael Klein:
Good afternoon, all.
I’m joining you from the second floor of the new Good Stuff Eatery at 108 S. 18th St.
I will have with me – for much of our hour – Spike Mendelsohn, the Top Chef season 4 fan favorite, whose family has opened this shop. It’s the first GSE outside of Washington, his hometown.
Welcome, Spike, and welcome all of you.
Have questions? Start asking and we’ll start chatting shortly.
2:03 So here goes. I have the keyboard, and I'll just ask Spike.
2:03 Comment From Kelly
What inspired you to come to Philadelphia?
2:04 Spike says: "The city itself sells itself. We come down here. It's super charming. I love all the small business owners here. That says a lot about the city. Really good food scene, too. I want to complement what's going on."
2:04 Comment From Guest
Hands down the fan favorite at the burger brawl, I think you guys got snubbed.
Spike says: "I wish I could have been there myself but I was filming my new show, called Midnight Feast. I heard that we got rated I think by Eater as the second-best burger. It was a great cause and thank you for thinking of us like that."
2:06 Comment From Kelly
Thank You! I plan to come in
2:07 Michael Klein:
Mike here: Tell me more about Midnight Feast.
2:09 Spike says: "It's on FYI, the old Biography. Pretty much we take over Chelsea Market. We have all access after hours. We get to use all the ingredients. It's 3 competitors who have to create the feast of a lifetime. I am one of the judges and the host. Six episodes and it premieres in September."
2:10 Comment From guest2
The decor in your restaurants is all different, but all equally awesome. I love the cleverness and the mix of humor you have. Who comes up with that? Is that a family thing? Are you guys all funny?
2:13 Michael Klein:
Spike says: "With all the branding, we use someone to help. We love to have fun as a family, though. The brand extension is a result of our wacky family. The industry itself is a subculture. Anyone who grew up in the business will know: that's what the industry does to you. We work nights, weekends, holidays."
2:13 Comment From guest2
The food is all great, too! Didn't mean to leave that out!!
Mike asks: "How did you come up with Good Stuff Eatery?"
Spike replies: "My family comes from a long line of restaurateurs in Montreal. Then we stumbled upon the idea of working together. Then I did Top Chef, and we realized there was a whole line of marketing ideas. So we got the idea to do burgers, Burgers make sense - it's one of the top-selling items in America. We reinvented them in our own way."
2:17 Comment From Brian B.
Spike, thanks for chatting. What are your best tips for a beginner cook?
Spike says: "Don't get caught up in the recipe. It's just a guideline."
2:18 Comment From Booch
Are you planning to expand o, do you plan on anything else in Philadelphia?
Spike says: "We're going to open another Good Stuff, and we're scouting today for a Philly location for We, the Pizza [the two-unit operation in the D.C. area]."
2:20 Comment From Jimmy
Hey Spike! You were awesome on Top Chef. You seem like a great competitor. What motivates you and keeps you going?
Spike says: "All the opportunities that come from being somewhat successful on a show like that. A show like that becomes something like an audition."
2:21 Comment From Booch
expanding in Philadelphia or are you thinking or do you plan on relying on your team here to run the biz?
: "I can't! The only location I'd relocate to is our Maui location."
2:22 Michael Klein:
Mike here: It should be noted that there is no Maui location.
2:22 Michael Klein:
Mike asks, "What was the first thing you made in the kitchen as a kid?"
2:24 Spike says, "My mother and grandmother made Greek bread. I used to punch it and knead it. There was a step stool for me because I couldn't reach the sink."
2:24 Michael Klein:
Mike here: Spike calls himself Grewish - his dad is Jewish and his mom is Greek
2:25 Comment From Ken
What makes a great dish? What's the difference between excellent food and mediocre food?
2:27 Spike says: "Seasoning. When used properly, they could make all the difference in a dish. Also texture plays a great role. As many as you can expose at the same time, the better."
2:28 Michael Klein:
Spike is posing for photos, so I'm hanging here. Any Philly restaurant questions? Ask away!
2:28 Comment From Kelly
What are your favorite Philadelphia restaurants?
Spike says, "I love Dandelion down the block - all the Stephen Starr restaurants. It's the coziest. Vetri is great. Kevin Sbraga's places."
2:31 Comment From Kelly
Burgers.. Pizza... What next for you Spike?
Spike says, "I have Bearnaise, a full-service French bistro on Capitol Hill. I also have a speakeasy called The Sheppard opening in early July near Dupont Circle."
2:34 Comment From Guest
Mike, what is the deal with the old Mainland Inn in Harleysville?
2:34 Michael Klein:
It's still on the books, but the opening is being delayed again and again. I'd think late summer would be a safe guess.
Mike asks Spike, "Any thoughts of bringing down smoked meat from your hometown of Montreal?"
Spike says: "Nahhh. I don't think it would work. As you know, my family owns Schwartz's. I like going there for smoked meat."
2:38 Comment From Lynn
What's going to distinguish Good Stuff Eatery from similar restaurants in the market?
Spike says: "We're very relate-able. We're a family restaurant. We're still a small business. I also think the menu is particular to us. We distinguish ourselves by having original recipes. The Smokehouse and Obama burger are original. We've hit everyone's palate and we also think of the people who don't eat meat. We try to make ourselves available to everybody."
2:42 Michael Klein:
I see you get a lot of attention from the ladies. What's your deal?
Spike says: "I'm a single guy mixed up in a burger world."
2:43 Michael Klein:
How did you come up with this location, opposed to somewhere else?
Spike says: "It was the wallk-by traffic. The neighborhood. All our neighbors. We come in, we scout it, we watch it. We see the culture. All the small things that people forget to do. We're still driven as a family business."
2:45 Comment From Dan
For other single guys, should we take our dates to Good Stuff Eatery, or are there other date restaurants you like?
Spike says: "100% take them to GSE! Here's the trifecta that will seal the deal: Go for the regular cheeseburger - keep it nice and simple. You have a second or third date for the fancier burgers. You can nail her with the toasted marshmallow shake. Fries and dipping sauce and you're in business, my friend."
2:47 Comment From Guest
Boxers, Briefs or Not-Applicable? For both Spike and Mike...
Spike says: "Not applicable. There's no better way to christen a restaurant." Mike says: "Boxers, thanks for asking."
2:49 Comment From Guest
Do you think you'll offer another vegetarian option besides just a fried cheese filled portabella?
Spike says: "Vegetable-only burgers are very difficult because there's so much water content, you're left with nothing. I'm experimenting on a bean burger. We're always expanding the menu."
2:52 Comment From Guest
You're a fedora pioneer. Did Pharrell and Bruno Mars bite your style?
Spike says: "I think they're only improving on my LACK of style."
2:53 Michael Klein:
Is there anything you would not put on the menu?
Spike says: "Someone asked for a doughnut burger. No."
2:55 Michael Klein:
Where is next for you?
You have Sheppard in D.C. coming.. and ...
Spike says: "We have a Good Stuff opening in Chicago in November. I'm launching an event company called Spiked - we'll curate cool events all over D.C., like a pool party on July 4."
2:58 Michael Klein:
Question from the studio audience: "Do you have a favorite burger here?"
Spike replies, "The bacon cheeseburger. It's got everything you want in a burger."
3:00 Michael Klein:
Ok, folks. We're going to sign off now. Craig LaBan will be back next week to talk about his Jersey shore experience. Thanks for tuning in.