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Umami Burger Teams Up with Andy Samberg for The Samberger

Umami Burger Teams Up with Andy Samberg for The Samberger

Umami Burger has teamed up with Andy Samberg for the aptly named ‘Samberger,’ available September 23 nationwide

The Samberger will be available at participating locations of Umami Burger beginning September 23.

Comedian Andy Samberg is the latest celebrity to partner with Umami Burger in its Artist Series, which has previously featured The Black Keys and chefs José Andrés and Michael Voltaggio.

“The Samberger will pay homage to Andy’s love for Chicago-style hot dogs, which served as his inspiration for the burger,” announced Umami Burger.

The Samberger features Umami Burger’s signature beef patty, “topped with sport peppers, roasted tomatoes, chopped Umami dill pickles, a kombu relish, roasted garlic aioli, poppy seeds and yellow mustard on Umami Burger’s signature bun.”

The Samberger will be available at participating locations for $13 beginning September 23, including Umami Wicker Park in Chicago, which opens September 18.

“I worked tirelessly 'munchin around' with the Umami Burger team to design a burger that would best represent everything I stand for,” said Samberg. “We tried many combinations and flavors, and ultimately landed on a Chicago Dog-themed burger that has literally nothing to do with me. But it tasted really good so we went with it.”

One dollar from each burger sold will benefit The Center for Early Intervention on Deafness (CEID) in Berkeley, California.

For the latest food and drink updates, visit our Food News page.

Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.

Does 'Umami' make a better burger?

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The Hatch green chile cheeseburger, an idea borrowed from New Mexico that tastes great across the country. (Photo: Larry Olmsted for USA TODAY)

The scene: In just over five years Umami Burger has surged from its humble start in a single Southern California location to more than twenty outlets on both coasts and the Midwest (California, New York, Nevada, Illinois). It has quickly amassed a cult following of diehard fans, not dissimilar to the more famous Southern California burger chain In-N-Out. But true believers aside, the Umami Burger model is very different from any of the fast food players in the burger space. It is more similar to fast casual newcomers like Bobby's Burger Palace, BurgerFi and Larkburger, but even these, where you order at the counter, lack the full-service, sit-down experience Umami Burger delivers quickly and causally. It's not fast food, but it is fast full-service dining.

The chain does a very good job of appearing not to be a chain, both in menu and decor. Most locations feature some kind of bar, and the food is served on contemporary rectangular white plates, but beyond that the setting and furniture vary, though brick walls, exposed wood and a comfortable yet trendy pub-meets-hipster ambiance is typical. Some go for a more industrial loft feel with high ceilings, exposed ductwork and concrete floors, while the location in the new SLS Resort in Las Vegas sits inside the casino race and sports book and feels like someone's living room – and also features an outdoor "beer garden" along Las Vegas Boulevard.

The food is as varied as the locations, and while the bulk of the menu is consistent, each region has its own rotating signature burger, desserts and starters change, and some menus are broader than others, which helps keep the experience fresh even for regular patrons. The extensive craft beer menu is also customized by location, with a very unusual slate of drafts and bottles that mixes local microbrews with far-flung eclectic choices such as Singha (Thailand) and Narragansett (Rhode Island). While all the eateries serve beer and wine, some also have full-service cocktail menus. As a result, Umami Burger feels more like a local restaurant group than a chain.

Larkburger: Building a better burger, Colorado-style

Reason to visit: Manly Burger, special edition burgers, umamified fries, onion rings

The food: Umami, often described as savory, is the so-called "fifth taste." It was identified about a century ago, much later than the original four: sweet, salty, sour and bitter. However, its use in cooking was intuitively understood since ancient times, especially with fermented fish and grain sauces widely used in Asia and the Middle East. Foods especially associated with umami include soy sauce, fish, mushrooms, tomatoes and other vegetables. It is not an easily identifiable taste of its own like sweetness, but rather a booster that raises the overall flavor of dishes like using a mix of chopped vegetables to richen stocks or stews. The powdered flavor enhancer MSG was the first commercial attempt to sell umami as an ingredient, and the chain uses a secret recipe "Umami Master Sauce" in – not on – its burgers, which are also coated with "Umami Dust."

A lot of the power of umami seems to be psychological, and in the group I dined with, those who knew to expect it convinced themselves there was some distinctive flavor, while the rest of us just thought they were tasty burgers. The idea after all is a flavorful burger, not a weird-tasting one, and the restaurant succeeds – though there are plenty of places serving equally tasty burgers with no secret umami sauce. The meat is ground in-house at every location from a particular blend of whole cuts of beef, and burgers are cooked medium rare unless specially requested. Because these are thick, home-style patties, they keep a red center, are juicy, and more real than fast food versions. These tasty patties are the key, but burgers come in a very wide and unusual assortment.

The original Umami Burger has shitake mushrooms, caramelized onions, signature ketchup, roasted tomatoes and the eye-catching touch, a crunchy parmesan wafer that looks like a giant ridged potato chip. Other versions include one topped with arugula and fried egg, while a Southwestern version has Hatch green chiles, cheese and roasted garlic aioli. My favorite is the Manly Burger, which comes with smoked onion strings, beer-flavored cheddar and bacon lardons – big cubes of quality bacon the size of croutons, a really nice touch. The huge B.U.B. Burger is similar to the Manly, keeping the lardons but trading the fried onion strings for a second patty and middle bun, like a Big Mac for grown-ups. The green chile burger is also very good, smoky but not spicy.

BurgerFi a worthy warrior in upscale fast food battle

All sandwiches come with the logo-style U on the bun, which looks toasted like the logo at BurgerFi, but is actually printed with edible vegetable dye. Besides beef burgers, there are some other varieties, including ahi tuna, turkey and an excellent Asian-style five-spice duck burger.

The rest of the menu is short but not simple, with a few interesting gourmet salads (like beets with ricotta, goat cheese, smoked almonds and wild baby arugula), onion rings, a house pickle plate and fried pickles, along with skinny fries. The fries can also be "umamified" and topped just like the burgers – think Manly fries. The fries are the skinniest I have ever seen in a burger place, matchsticks, and while good by themselves they are better with toppings, because they use things like the big chunks of bacon and real cheese, not nacho goop. Topped fries are often less than the sum of their parts, but not these, which are great. The onion rings are excellent, thick, crunchy, fresh and delicious, as good as you will find.

Desserts consisted of homemade ice cream cookie sandwiches, a novel twist that is also very good, with choices varying by location. The last time I visited they had white raspberry ice cream on sugar cookies and chocolate ice cream on double chocolate chip cookies spread with Nutella, while other locations offered double chocolate cookies with peanut butter ice cream.

The final key to Umami Burger is its regional burger specials. In Vegas, celebrity chef Jose Andres created a Spanish-themed version with a ground pork and prosciutto patty topped with Manchego cheese and piquillo pepper confit. In New York, SNL-alum Andy Samberg created the Samberger, a throwback to his Windy City days, a burger topped like a Chicago-style hot dog, including the distinctive green relish. This helps keep things fresh and interesting. The bottom line is that Umami Burger offers a restaurant-style dining experience – at sit-down restaurant prices - using fresh, high-quality ingredients but with the consistent, predictable and efficient methodology of a chain.

Eat Your Way Through National Cheeseburger Day

National Cheeseburger Day is a sacred holiday for many, considering burgers rank high up the emotional totem pole of comfort foods. So as if any of you needed further insentive to feast on ground beef patties, here's a handy excuse. To help guide you through this indulgent haze of a holiday, here's a nifty guide to some standout cheeseburgers in Chicago, along with some holiday-centric cheeseburger deals.

(The SWK at South Water Kitchen)

Owen & Engine: One of the greatest burgers in the world comes out of the kitchen at Owen & Engine, a manse-like neo-British restaurant and bar on the outer edge of Logan Square. From the billowy and warm house-baked potato bap bun to the treacly and jammy caramelized onions, the restaurant knows how to delicately accent the burger without overpowering or distracting. The focus here is clearly on the thick Slagel Farm beef patty, lush with meaty juices and earthy undertones. The restaurant also recently added another burger to its repertoire, a roasted eggplant variation that delves even further down the eclectic path with an Egyptian sweet roll, garlic-lemon aioli, sweet and sour tomatoes, and pan-fried Haloumi cheese.

South Water Kitchen: Bigger is better when it comes to burgers. Case in point, the incomparable "SWK Burger" at South Water Kitchen, where chef Roger Waysok serves up herculean portions of ground beef, smoked tomatoes, shredded black kale (which almost makes this whole thing seem like a salad, no?), beef cheek-onion jam (ok nevermind), and Widmer aged cheddar. Normally $20, the burger will be on special for just $10 at lunch and dinner on September 18.

Max's Wine Dive: This Texas import may be famed for its fried chicken and Champagne, but the burger is not to be ignored. This hefty behemoth is made with a blend of short rib, brisket, chuck, and beef belly, heaped on a brioche bun with hydroponic bibb lettuce, hot house tomatoes, red onion, and housemade pickles. Classic and intensely comforting.

Umami Burger: Right next door to Max's Wine Dive is another import, this one from Los Angeles. Umami Burger opens its first Chicago location conveniently on National Cheeseburger Day (coincidence?!). This burger Mecca contains everything from "Manly" burgers stacked with beer cheddar cheese, smoked salt-onion strings, and bacon lardons to truffle burgers made with truffled cheese and truffle glaze. Just in time for Umami Burger's Chicago debut, the restaurant is rolling out a new temporary special called The Samberger, the latest in the restaurant's rotating artist series named for Andy Samberg. The burger derives inspiration from Samber's love for Chicago-style hot dogs, made with a beef patty, sport peppers, roasted tomatoes, chopped Umami dill pickles, kombu relish, roasted garlic aioli, poppy seeds, and yellow mustard. The burger makes its debut September 23.

(Acadia's burger)

DMK Burger Bar: Duh. One of the progenitors of Chicago's burger boom over the past several years is still one of the greats. DMK Burger Bar wows with its broad roster of crafty, chef-y burgers on puffy, perfectly sized buns. You can't really go wrong with anything on offer here, but one newbie to take note of is the Frito Bandito Burger, the rotating featured #!5, which runs from September 15 through October 15. It features a bison patty, guacamole, pido de gallo, Frito corn chips, and cotija ceese.

Acadia: One of my favorite burgers in town can be found at the casual bar area of the South Loop's finest fine dining gem. The Acadia burger flies in the face of the more upscale main dining room with its sloppy-but-wonderful medley of housemade bacon, "special" sauce, garlic pickles, smoked cheddar Mornay, and Gruyere. It's unabashedly cheesy, stacked, and gut-busting, as the greatest of cheeseburgers should be.

Mercat a la Planxa: A modern tapas restaurant may not be the most obvious destination for burger supremacy, but then again Mercat a la Planxa is full of delicious surprises. The signature Mercat Burger looks pretty standard, but it's laden with unexpected punches of flavor, from the La Peral cheese and the padron peppers to the heady red wine-onion jam.

Andy Samberg Unveils The Samberger For Umami Burger

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Julia Child stamps and Andy Samberg burgers

Letter-writing may be a lost art, but when your stamps pay homage to the nation’s great chefs — well, it just makes you want to write a thank-you note, doesn’t it? Thank you, Julia Child, for teaching us to make beef bourguignon.

The U.S. Postal Service just released a new line of Celebrity Chefs Forever stamps that honor Child, James Beard (of course), Joyce Chen (thank you for the pot stickers) Edna Lewis (mmm, fried chicken and other Southern fare) and Felipe Rojas-Lombardi (tapas!). The new stamps are available at post offices, as well as at

Burger King just launched a new line of burgers in Japan — and they’re black. As in, yep, look at the photo. The buns and cheese are dyed with bamboo charcoal, the patty is laced with black pepper, and the special sauce is made with squid ink. Business Insider reports that it looks even more ghastly in real life.

Our first question — right after, “Why, in god’s name, would you do that? ” and “Is there any way to unsee that?” — is “Why stop there?” Surely they could have topped this thing with black lacinato kale instead of that bright-green lettuce leaf.

At the opposite end of the appetizing spectrum, Umami has unleashed the newest item in its Artist Series, a burgerific salute to creative talents such as the Black Keys and chef Jose Andres. This time it’s a meaty homage to Andy Samberg, Berkeley native, star of TV’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and the SNL alum who, along with Justin Timberlake, gave new meaning to the notion of a gift in a box.

Apparently Samberg favors Chicago-style hot dogs, so Umami’s new Samberger ($13) is topped with peppers, roasted tomatoes, chopped pickles, poppy seeds, kombu relish, roasted garlic aioli and yellow mustard. And there’s a philanthropic component — $1 from each burger goes to Berkeley’s Center for Early Intervention on Deafness for its programs for young children with hearing issues.

Ponder this as you fire up the grill before the big football game: Tailgating dates back to the Civil War. Seems Union sympathizers popped up at the Battle of Bull Run in 1861 to cheer for their army and picnic on the sidelines. Because nothing goes better with battlefield carnage than deviled eggs? According to American Tailgater Association historians, the picnicking Yanks shouted, “Go big blue!” No word on whether they wore giant foam fingers, too.

Umami Burger's Latest Creation Raises Money for Charity

Umami Burger announced today the latest collaboration in its Artist Series, The Samberger by Andy Samberg benefitting The Center for Early Intervention on Deafness in Berkeley, California.

"Andy is one of the funniest men in Hollywood and I'm one his fans," said Adam Fleischman, Founder and Chairman of Umami Restaurant Group.

Samberg hails from Berkeley, rose to notoriety in New York and now lives in Los Angeles filming hit FOX comedy series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," set in Brooklyn. Though he has no personal connection to Chicago, he has always loved Chicago-style hot dogs, which served as his inspiration for the burger.

The Samberger features Umami Burger's signature beef patty topped with sport peppers, roasted tomatoes, chopped Umami dill pickles, a kombu relish, roasted garlic aioli, poppy seeds and yellow mustard on Umami Burger's signature bun. It will be available for $13 starting Sept. 23, 2014, at participating Umami Burger locations nationwide.

Andy Samberg added, "I worked tirelessly 'munchin around'™ with the Umami Burger team to design a burger that would best represent everything I stand for. We tried many combinations and flavors, and ultimately landed on a Chicago Dog-themed burger that has literally nothing to do with me. But it tasted really good so we went with it."

$1 from each burger will be donated to CEID in Berkeley. For over 30 years the CEID has been maximizing communication potential through early education, family support and community audiology services for young children who are deaf and hard of hearing.

"CEID's work with young children who are deaf would not be possible without the support of people like Andy Samberg and the folks at Umami Burger," said Cindy Dickeson, executive director for CEID.

Andy Samberg's Umami Burger Duende Bodega Shutters

COW HOLLOW/SOMAUmami Burger is at it again with their stunt burger antics: the latest edition comes from Berkeley native Andy Samberg, whose $13 Samberger is topped like a Chicago dog with peppers, tomatoes, dill pickles, relish, roasted garlic aioli, poppy seeds and mustard. It'll be released next Tuesday, and $1 from each burger will benefit Berkeley's SEID, which helps deaf children. [EaterWire]

UPTOWN OAKLAND—The bodega at Duende is calling it quits, becoming part of the restaurant for dinner service. The only remaining lunch service will be the popular Paella Fridays (11:45 am-2:30 pm) to-go wines will also remain available for sale during dinner. [Berkeleyside Nosh]

OUTER RICHMOND—Cater your Rosh Hashanah celebrations with the help of Marla Bakery, which is offering goodies like challah, apple tarts, an appetizing platter, and a full catered meal for four people or more. They're also now making cakes for occasions, by order. [EaterWire]

NOB HILLSt. George Spirits is joining forces with Millennium for a pairing dinner tomorrow night, featuring five courses with spirits and/or cocktails. Tickets are $95. Or join the Millennium folks to celebrate their 20th anniversary next Thursday, September 25, for an evening of passed appetizers, a full bar, and a live band ($65). [EaterWire]

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When Andy Samberg started working on the Umami Burger promotion — the latest famous person to sign up for their Artist Series — he checked in with mom.

“Andy asked me, was there a charity that was close to my heart — and deaf kids and families holds that place,” Margie Samberg said. “I think Andy has a clear understanding of how important services are for families with hearing difficulties.”

Umami’s other Artist Series burgers have already raised about $13,000 each. Guitarist Slash’s burger benefitted the Los Angeles Youth Network, and the Black Keys’ burger helped out a charity in Akron, Ohio.

The fundraiser started on Tuesday this week and is expected to last about two months. Umami Burger, founded in southern California, has 24 locations. Locally, along with the Oakland restaurant, there are two branches in San Francisco (in SoMa and at the Marina), as well as one in Palo Alto.

Every year CEID works with about 100 children from birth to age 5, teaching sign language, as well as working on spoken language. It also serves more than 1,000 people of all ages in its audiology clinic, testing hearing and providing hearing aids. (Read Berkeleyside’s feature on CEID.)

Located on Grayson Street near San Pablo Avenue, the center provides several on-site programs for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Most of the families come from Alameda County, and some from San Francisco and Contra Costa County. The center also has a daycare program for children with normal hearing, and the two groups play together. Center staff members also make home visits.

The budget for CEID, including the audiology clinic, is just over $2 million, according to executive director Cindy Dickeson. Although some funds come from school districts and medical insurance, CEID needs to raise about $750,000 annually, she said.

It’s not the first time Andy Samberg has given back to his hometown. In 2012 he and his Lonely Island partners, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, who also grew up in Berkeley and have been friends since Willard Middle School, gave $250,000 to Berkeley Unified School District.

To get breaking Berkeley news from Berkeleyside follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.

Andy Samberg Signed Up for Facebook at Mark Zuckerberg's Insistence—Watch Now to Get the Scoop!

Andy Samberg isn't accepting friend requests.

The Brooklyn Nine-Nine star stopped by The Tonight Show Wednesday, where he revealed that he does have a Facebook profile, but he's not an active user. "It's a private account and I have one friend—Mark Zuckerberg," he recalled. "We were at Facebook doing an event and we were in his office hanging out, because, you know, he did SNL so we're sort of friendly. Somehow it came up, like, 'You know, when you're on your account. ' and I was like, 'Oh, I'm actually not on Facebook.' And he was like, What?'"

"He was shocked," Samberg, 36, continued. "He was like, 'Why? Why? Why aren't you on Facebook? Why aren't you on Facebook?' I was like, 'I just am in touch with everyone I want to be in touch with. I'm fine.' He was like, 'You should have an account. You should just have one just so you have it.' I was like, 'If you set up my account and you're my only friend, so I can tell this on a talk show, and it's a private account and none of your friends start asking me [questions], e-mailing me and stuff, [then I'll do it].'"

"He was like, 'Totally. It's totally fine.' I went to the bathroom, came back, it was done. He was like, 'You're all set up.' And then the following week, I started getting e-mails and friend requests from his friends. I texted him and I was like, 'Hey man, I hate to do this to you, head of Facebook, but I think I need some tech support here.' He was so cool about it. He was like, 'Go into your settings. '"

"He like walked me through it! The best! And it worked. Of course it totally worked," Samberg said of his techie friend. "So now there's some dormant Facebook account out there and it's just me and the Zuck."

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Being friends with a billionaire is cool, but it's not the only perk that comes with being famous. In fact, the Golden Globe winner revealed that Umami Burger recently named a menu item after him. "They've done this artists' series. I think The Black Keys did one and Slash from Guns N' Roses did one. So they asked me, like, 'Hey, do you want to design a burger with us?" the Celeste and Jesse Forever star said. "We talked about a bunch of different ideas and one idea was had was the ingredients you would put on a Chicago dog, but put ɾm on a burger, even though I have no affiliation with Chicago whatsoever. I've been to Chicago maybe five times total, but every time I get a Chicago dog."

Samberg and Fallon then took a bite of his Sambergers.

The former Saturday Night Live stars also played "5-Second Summaries," a game in which each player must give the other person clues about a movie without using words from the title or naming any actors. Fallon later lessened the time frame to three- and one-second rounds. Selected films included Con Air, The Expendables, Men in Black and You've Got Mail. The winning player was promised 10 Sambergers.

Mindy Kaling created 'The Mindy Burger' for a good reason

September is looking to be a pretty incredible month for those of us who love Mindy Kaling. Firstly, The Mindy Project’s fourth season will begin streaming on Hulu on September 15th. (Thank you again, Hulu gods, for ensuring that we get at least one more season of Danny Castellano’s beautiful weirdness.) Secondly, Mindy’s new book, Why Not Me, also drops on the 15th, and we can’t wait. Finally𠅊nd perhaps, most importantly—we can now eat a burger created by Mindy herself!

The burger, which has been conceived through a partnership with Umami Burger, costs $13 and became available on September first. According to People, The Mindy Burger is a beef patty topped with pickled jalapeños, meaning it’s going to have a bit of a kick. There are also fried onion strings, a house-made sriracha aioli, and of course, white cheddar cheese�use Mindy knows us too well to deprive us of cheese.

As Kaling said, “I love Umami and I was so honored to be able to create my own burger. Spicy and cheesy, it reflects my own personality.”

While we have made peace with our gluttony and think that’s a sufficient enough reason for the creation of The Mindy Burger, there’s also a great cause that will benefit from its sale: for every one purchased, $1 will go to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. The network works to advance research, support patients, and create hope for those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Now, you may be wondering how this combination of magical, famous burger purveyor/ TV series creator and star/ super great cause works. So, here it is: The Mindy burger is part of Umami Burger’s Artist Series, which asks a celebrity to invent a burger. In return, Umami gives a dollar for each burger sold to the charity of the celeb’s choosing. Fellow funny-person/ delightful human Andy Samberg created The Samberger as part of the series last year.

We suspect that, while we’re happy that proceeds from The Mindy Burger will go to help those in need, Mindy Kaling wouldn’t have needed a lot of motivation to create it: her love of fast-food and all things delicious is renowned. In fact, her most recent birthday celebration included a McDonald’s party.

While McDonald’s is definitely pleasing crowds by extending its breakfast menu, Umami Burger definitely has more of a reputation as a foodie paradise. As CEO of Umami Burger Paul Clayton astutely notes, “Mindy Kaling is a brilliant comedic talent, simultaneously fearless, sharp and approachable. Her culinary talents have a similar sensibility. The Mindy Burger will be popular with food lovers everywhere.”

We know we can’t wait to try it𠅋ut we’ll have to hurry, since it’s only available for a limited time!

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