Adam Fleischman, the person who introduced us Umami Burger, is holding a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, sitting on a chair in entrance of downtown Los Angeles’ Grand Central Market. It isn’t the PB&J of your childhood, however quite an enclosed disk that appears remarkably like one thing from Space fifty one. The sandwich, and a fleet of others constructed and branded like them, is Fleischman’s newest venture: a brand new empire of nostalgia-pushed, excessive-idea meals that may, early subsequent month, arrive within the type of a modern sandwich on the Grand Central Market stall. First cease, the one hundred-yr-previous meals courtroom. Then, if all goes in response to plan, the world.
That type of hyperbole is regular in Fleischman’s realm, and given the wild success of the burger empire he based in 2009 — a model harnessed to a deeply addictive, absurdly taste-jammed hamburger — it’s onerous to not play alongside. Fleischman’s expertise is that of the pitchman, and what he slides throughout the counter is supposed to be wrapped not simply in paper but in addition in consolation, comfort, even archetype. PBJ.LA, because the nascent sandwich enterprise is known as, is a branded supply mechanism as a lot as it’s a meals stall.
“We’re making an attempt to create disruptive merchandise,” Fleischman says of the sandwiches, which function a spherical bread made by an area baker he gained’t determine, and crimped in a machine Fleischman is equally secretive about — he and his companions designed and patented it. The rounds of bread seem like edible Frisbees, the machine a bit like an enormous lemon squeezer. What’s pressed contained in the discs, the recipes additionally from Fleischman and his companions: home-made nut butters and jams, whose components and taste profiles match properly into as we speak’s Southern California farm-to-desk ethos. Jams made with rosé and stone fruit; nut butters from pistachios and almonds. There’s espresso and natural chocolate, cashew butter and mango chutney, apple jam and Angostura bitters.
“Everybody has their reminiscence of what it’s; I feel we’ve been capable of elevate it and gourmand-ify it,” says Fleischman, your Marcel Proust second by way of Don Draper.
The sandwiches, which come packaged in white and purple (“It’s sort of like a burrito, the whole lot is locked in there”) to be packed or ported, are supposed to be concurrently nostalgic and ahead-leaning. If this sounds acquainted, that’s as a result of it’s. Fleischman needs to reinvent PB&J the best way he did the hamburger, to rewire and rebrand a primary consolation meals. On this case, the mechanism is acquainted too: Keep in mind Scorching Pockets? Or, extra relevantly, Smucker’s Uncrustables?
Fleischman’s historical past of massive concepts doesn’t simply embrace the hamburger. Along with Umami Burger, presently 26 eating places and counting (Fleischman partnered with Sam Nazarian’s SBE group in 2011), there’s the pizza empire. Fleischman co-based 800 Levels — a part of the brand new wave of ingredient-pushed, quick-informal eating places when it opened in 2010 — a pizza chain that boasts sixteen eating places, each in and out of doors of the U.S. After which there was ChocoChicken, Fleischman’s chocolate-and-fried-hen challenge, which debuted to combined critiques in 2014 and has since closed. (Fleischman says he’s reviving the challenge and hopes to reopen the restaurant subsequent yr.)
PBJ.LA is just one stall, a 12-seat counter nonetheless hidden behind development panels at Grand Central, within the area between Chiles Secos and DTLA Cheese. (“It’s what’s occurring in meals now. Everybody’s going small. It’s the kiosk mannequin,” says Fleischman.) And his companions within the venture aren’t Nazarian and his monumental hospitality firm however slightly three guys he met at a fitness center. Fleischman, who likes origin myths (the unique Umami Burger was invented, based on Fleischman and the world, in the future in his kitchen), says PBJ.LA occurred after he met Payvand Salehi, Brad Greenberg and Jimmy Franklin at Sky Sport and Spa in Beverly Hills a couple of years in the past. That not one of the males had a lot of a culinary historical past wasn’t apparently thought-about a problem. Fleischman himself has a BA in liberal arts from the College of Maryland and labored in finance and wine — he’s a self-taught prepare dinner — earlier than opening the L.A. wine bars BottleRock and Vinoteque, promoting these and utilizing the cash to start out Umami Burger.
The 4 males beloved the thought of recalibrating the previous-faculty sandwich, and Fleischman ultimately took the thought to the parents at Grand Central Market. That meals courtroom is a becoming residence, because it’s been a sort of restaurant incubator for the final century — from Magee’s Peanut Butter in 1917 to China Cafe in 1958 (and nonetheless working) to Eggslut in 2013, the place the strains have been a close to-everlasting fixture because it opened.
Whereas he envisions his personal strains, Fleischman is planning additional outposts of empire: He’s engaged on a espresso venture, referred to as the Chilly Cocked Espresso Co., to open in L.A.’s Koreatown neighborhood. And he has a cookbook popping out, with the apt title of “Taste Bombs: Cooking With the Artwork and Science of Umami.”
As for any resemblance between his new sandwich and the hand-held PB&Js produced by a famous jam firm, “these are the frozen burgers model,” Fleischman says with the knowledge of a model man. “Ours are natural and diversified to the max. And recent and artisanal, in fact. And larger.”