Q&A: Timothy Dean of TD Burger

By Rina Rapuano  |  October 22, 2013
Credit: Fredde Lieberman

Timothy Dean may be best known for his time on Bravo’s Top Chef, but before that he was a hometown boy who worked his way up into the kitchen of the late, legendary DC chef Jean-Louis Palladin. He opened his second area TD Burger in NoMa in August, where he serves burgers named for famous folks - and finds creative ways to top everything he can with foie gras.

We caught up with Dean to chat about his all-natural, grass-fed Angus beef burgers, which he says benefit from a little extra fat in the mix, some time on the gas grill and a spice blend with more than 20 herbs and spices in it.

What’s your favorite burger on the menu?
One that I’m very fond of and I enjoy making is the Jean-Louis. It’s a half-pound burger that has foie gras on it, dressed with mache and essence of black truffle on a grilled brioche bun. And it’s named after Jean-Louis Palladin, who I spent 15 years with.

What’s the best seller?
The best seller right now is the Sonia from the Bronx [named for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor]. Her and the Obama burger were running neck in neck, but she edged him out over the last couple of weeks. The Sonia burger has avocado, grilled romaine, cheddar cheese and thyme-roasted mushrooms.

When not eating your own burgers, what’s your favorite in the area?
When I was out tasting burgers, I liked Michael Mina’s [at Bourbon Steak] at the Four Seasons. Ray’s Hell Burger is also one of my favorites.

If you could have only one condiment on your burger, what would it be?
I would have to say foie gras.

I’m talking about sauce.
Foie gras is sauce! It would have to be black-truffle mayonnaise.

You’ve got expensive tastes.
Oh, you know, yeah. The French did it to me.

French fries or onion rings?
That’s a tough one. I would have to go with the all-American fry, but with sea salt. We have the sea salt from Brittany, and that just makes all the difference.

What’s the biggest thing you learned from Jean-Louis Palladin?
He taught me how to be a gentleman and a good chef. He also taught me that you don’t have to do a whole lot if you’ve got a good product. You just have to treat it with respect. If you’ve got a great ground-beef patty, you don’t have to do a lot with it except cook it correctly. 

250 K St. NE; 202-465-2433