A buzz has been building ever since chef Amy Pressman and Mozza chef-owner Nancy Silverton co-hosted a special dinner last August at Canele, where they featured a grass-fed hamburger. Silverton, Pressman and restaurateur Bill Chait – Pressman’s partner in Pasadena’s bygone Old Town Bakery – have since locked down a lease at the southwest corner of The Original Farmers Market and should debut a burger-centric concept called Short Order by early 2011.
Chait said Short Order will occupy the two-story building that previously housed Du-Par’s bakery. The Short Order team has been working closely with the Gilmore family, who has owned the land where the Farmers Market sprouted since the late 1800s. Chait said the Gilmores originally approached Silverton about doing a burger concept in another market space, but they quickly expanded the focus after meeting. He considers the current incarnation a “mega project.”
Osvaldo Maiozzi, who designed Rivera (co-owned by Chait) and Angelini Osteria and redesigned Il Grano, is also leading Short Order’s redesign. “Downstairs is a super sophisticated burger stand,” says Chait. “Upstairs is a terrace with full bar.” Chait said they went through historical review with the city, since the Farmers Market is a cultural landmark. They’ve worked closely with the Gilmore family to “maintain the character of what the farmers market looks like.” Given that, they plan to reclaim all of the original wood and preserve 75% of the original architecture in the remodel. Short Order will occupy the only space in the Farmers Market to face outward.
“Amy and Nancy got together and created this really amazing burger concept called Short Order,” said Chait. “The whole concept is taking what’s happening with burgers and chef-driven food in the context of a farmers market location.” Pressman worked with Silverton on the opening crew at Spago and eventually opened Old Town Bakery in Pasadena, which she ran with Chait for a decade.
“American food has always been my particular favorite, even at Old Town Bakery,” says Pressman. “I did American bread, potato bread and biscuits…I can do a lot of other food and have had to [as a restaurant consultant], because you take the work and do something somebody else wants. I’m looking forward to making the decision and the only reason to make the decision is because I want it that way.”
“It was really important to have grass-fed meat,” says Pressman. “I definitely feel really strongly; have food that you eat and feel good afterwards…I eat things and when I don’t feel good afterwards, I don’t want to go back.”
She was inspired by watching Food, Inc. “We really need to think about what we’re doing to produce food,” says Pressman. “Anything I can do, I want to participate in that movement, producing stuff in a conscientious way. I wanted to involve a lot of different proteins, so we have pork, lamb, beef, turkey and tofu…but all of this is a work in progress. Nancy and I have changed the menu 20 times, and we’re not even under construction.” Chait alluded to “double duck with duck confit and duck egg” and said they could be using La Brea Bakery to make a lot of the buns.
In addition to burgers, you’ll also find deviled eggs, fries and onion rings. Pressman also described custard shakes, which are popular in the Midwest. At Short Order, they’ll be made with seasonal produce or “interesting candies.” She said there will also be “adult milkshakes.” Rivera / R26 bartender Julian Cox will oversee the restaurant’s farm-to-table American cocktails.
Short Order’s menu will change with the seasons. That means you won’t find heirloom tomatoes in the middle of winter. “I want food that tastes great, and it’s impossible for things to be the same all the time,” says Pressman. “You have to be willing to eat stuff when it’s in season, and it takes a commitment to do that, and that commitment pays off in so many ways, not the least being the flavor.”
Pressman said she’s enjoyed collaborating with Silverton, just like in the ’80s. “Nancy and I worked together at the original Spago 30 years ago, so it’s really fun and a luxury to be able to play together in the kitchen – which we used to do – bounce ideas off each other and each add an element.” Pressman thrives on the process, saying collaboration “makes everybody critical. If everybody has the same level of commitment and cares about it, it’s a great feeling.”
To stay sharp, Pressman has been working in the kitchen at Canele. She and Silverton also may do another event prior to Short Order’s launch. They even discussed getting a truck, but Pressman said the most important thing is to “keep my eye on the ball and focused on opening.” Also, no need to immediately speculate on expansion. As Pressman said, “I don’t have plans to be national.”