Shake Shack Madness: Inside David Chang’s First and Possibly Only Burger

By Noah Kaufman |

A behind the scenes look at an early version of the Momofuku Shrimp Stack. Courtesy of Shake Shack

It’s not every day that you get to sit down to what almost immediately became one of New York’s most sought after burgers. Actually, it’s only one day. And that day was June 10, 2014. Yesterday, David Chang and Shake Shack, two internationally renowned titans of comfort food, came together for one day and 1,000 burgers. As you may know, it’s part of the decade of Shake Shack celebration that also includes burgers from Daniel Boulud, Andrew Zimmern, Daniel Humm and April Bloomfield.

There will undoubtedly be a wait for every burger this week, but the lines to get one of the Chang/Shack Momofuku Shrimp Stacks were unbelievable, snaking all the way around Manhattan’s Madison Square Park and touching the sidewalk all the way back at 26th Street. The wait times were outrageous, reaching four at the longest.  

Everyone manning Shake Shack yesterday did their best to keep the line happy. They handed out frozen custard samples, and David Chang himself even walked the line, at one point personally high-fiving everyone who had probably called in sick to work that day to spend it waiting for the Momofuku chef's first professional foray into burgerdom. While we’re pretty sure David Chang has, at some point in his life, cooked a hamburger, this was his first professional burger, according to Shake Shack culinary director Mark Rosati.

Chang in the kitchen perfecting the recipe.

While we can’t speak for everyone in line, we would guess that no one left disappointed. The burger itself looked like fast food juiced with whatever Chris Evans got in the first Captain America movie. Our Shrimp Stack was bigger, stronger and significantly more handsome than what you order at a drive-through. The bright orange and green of Chang’s Hozon sauce and salted cucumbers, along with the shrimp cake gave it a futuristic look. And the taste was a perfect mix of salt, tang and smoke created with a little bit of Chang alchemy. He brined the shrimp in smoked water, using a technique we’re sure his staff guards under lock and key somewhere in the Momofuku Ko basement.

The burger that created the longest lines in Shake Shack history wasn’t Chang’s first thought though. According to Rosati, Chang initially wanted to cook a veggie burger, but after a back and forth on ingredients the two sides settled on the shrimp cheeseburger. And we’re glad they did.

The finished product.

There are no plans to make any of the week’s burgers a permanent fixture or even an occasionally recurring item on the Shake Shack menu, so for the 1,000 people who got to try a Shrimp Stack, it was a unique eating experience that won’t be duplicated. But be on the lookout for other unique experiences, not only with the Zimmern, Humm and Bloomfield burgers this week, but with other culinary inventions still TBA. We heard the Shake Shack one-year anniversary is coming up in London soon. Any suggestions?

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