Danny Meyer is all about hospitality and hamburgers. The St. Louis native is arguably Manhattan’s most celebrated restaurateur, the creator of Shake Shack and the author of Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business ($26.99, Harper Collins). He’s bringing his talents to South Beach this year to oversee the Shake Shack entry into Burger Bash and lead a Shake Shack wine tasting seminar. We talked to Meyer about Shake Shack, burger love and pairing wines with cheese fries.
What are you looking forward to at this year’s festival?
Burger Bash. It’s actually going to the first time I’ve attended Burger Bash. I’ve been to Bubble Q, but haven’t been to the South Beach Festival for a good five years or so.
How is Shake Shack Miami doing?
Amazingly well. I was there a week ago – it’s really exciting. We opened in the oppressive heat of summer, so this is the first high season experience we’ve had and we’re just doing enormous amounts of business relative to the summer. Our team just loves it in Miami.
Why did you choose Miami for your first Shake Shack outside of NY?
We always liked Miami, but the thing that made us make it the first one was the 1111 (Lincoln Road) project. We were all just incredibly inspired by the vision. We always want Shake Shack to be in places as exciting as the burger is delicious.
Any insider info about your Burger Bash entry?
I think we’re going to do the classic Shack Burger that’s won a following at Shake Shack & two Burger Bash titles (once in Miami Beach and once in NYC).
Okay, spill – what makes the Shack burger so great?
The love that goes into it. And I mean it. Beginning with how the animals are treated in Creekstone Farms in Kansas to the people who cook it and the love that goes into smiling when someone orders it and serves it. We’re certainly not responsible for inventing the cheeseburger, it really starts with care & love for what you’re doing.
Tell us about your seminar.
I’m leading a really fun wine panel – How to pair wines with Shake Shack. We’re paring six different wines with six different tastes of Shake Shack. I create a matrix chart so that everyone will do 36 different tastings involving foods like fries, cheese sauce, chicken bratwurst and Chicago hotdogs. Wine is really just an alcoholic version of the condiments we put on our food.