As we enter Pride Month, it's important to recognize and show gratitude to the individuals who have served, sacrificed and inspired in order to provide a better future for the LGBTQ+ community. As a gay Black chef in New York City, I want to show my sincere appreciation for the house mothers and fathers who dedicated their lives to serving in and out of the ballroom. They provided homes for queer, homeless and abused youth while teaching what it meant to walk with grace, confidence, self-love and compassion for others.
I've created three burgers inspired by three ballroom houses — House of Balmain, House of Ninja and House of Xtravaganza — to pay my respects to those who've served before me. These recipes are extra — and that's the point. When you're representing these three ballroom houses, nothing ordinary will do. I encourage you to play around with burger toppings, as each recipe is incredibly versatile. So, put on your flashiest cooking apron and serve up some burgers that will get tens across the board and leave plenty of clean plates behind.
As the ballroom scene becomes more visible with television shows like FX's "Pose" and HBO's "Legendary," it's important never to forget what ballroom represents. Rodney Balmain founded the House of Balmain in 2015, and he continues to provide space for the new generation of ballroom to grow, learn and serve on the dancefloor. Much like the House of Balmain, these burgers come to serve, proving that cooking with turkey is anything but dry or bland. The blend of bacon and turkey creates a burger that's smoky, juicy and packed with a surprise for everyone at the table. And then we're topping it off with melted brie and honey mustard to turn this into the most luxurious eating experience.
When Willi Ninja took over the ballroom scene in 1982, he displayed a profound appreciation for Japanese culture, so I created a teriyaki-glazed pork burger with spicy cabbage slaw in his honor. It'll surprise and delight your guests with its unexpected flavors, leaving a lasting impression — just like the legendary House of Ninja.
The House of Xtravaganza was founded in 1982 and was famous in the New York City ballroom scene for its jaw-droppingly elegant looks. So, I was inspired to create something unconventional but still classic. I played around with all of the usual components — the bun, cheese, bacon and condiments — taking them to the next level. Life is a bit more fun when you break the rules, and this Double Cheeseburger recipe does just that. With double the cheese, a thick and juicy patty piled high with sweet and spicy candied bacon and a tomato-y jam, this is a burger that is just as Xtra as the House of Xtravangza itself.