The best burger is a burger you can eat any time of the day. The original 50/50 burger from Slater's 50/50 is a combination of ground beef and ground bacon. It's a delicious breakfast burger with all the necessary breakfast components. We caught up with the owner, Scott Slater, and the culinary director, Tony Gurske, to chat about the flavor and origin of the original 50/50 burger.
Original 50/50 Burger
What's the story behind the 50/50?
Scott Slater thought up the idea while tailgating at San Diego Charger games. He was trying to get as much bacon as humanly possible into a burger. After much testing of various ratios from 100% ground bacon on down he figured out that he could still get the burger to give him a great bacon flavor AND hold together on a char grill if he used the 50/50 ratio.
What's the key component to this dish?
Great quality beef and great quality bacon. If you cheap out on either item, the final product isn’t the meaty, juicy thing we all want in a burger.
What's unique about the 50/50?
Most people look at this and say it can’t be done. Yes, some do small batches and use it as a novelty, but we execute this well day in and day out.
What are customer reactions to trying the 50/50 for the first time?
People are excited by the idea. Everyone loves bacon and everyone loves a great burger. We are just lucky enough to be able to give this to our guests on consistent basis.
What's a good beer and/or cocktail to pair with the 50/50?
Big Hoppy West Coast IPA.
The owner of Slater's 50/50, Scott Slater, chats about the original 50/50 burger and how it's prepared.
What kind of experience will a diner get at Slater's 50/50?
You will find a welcoming and friendly place to enjoy a great craft beer and burger.
About Scott Slater & Tony Gurske
Pictured: Tony Gurske and Scott Slater
Are you from San Diego?
I’m originally from Pasadena. I moved to San Diego after high school to be an Aztec at San Diego State University and invent the 50/50.
How did the concept of Slater's 50/50 come about?
As an Aztec, my college buddies and I would tailgate at the Chargers games every Sunday morning. Being Sunday morning is the morning after Saturday night, I designed a burger perfect for soaking up the night before. Seeing as it’s difficult to barbecue bacon in a parking lot I decided to grind up pork belly and make a burger patty out of it. A few years later when the opportunity arose to open a restaurant I modified the bacon patty, added beef and the 50/50 was born. My love of craft beer and sports was the icing on the concept.
Define the perfect traditional burger.
Corn or grain fed beef, (NO GRASS FED!) salt and pepper and classic ingredients. I’m still a sucker for government cheese and thousand island dressing on my burger. I called out the word traditional in the question because with all the crazy burgers I have created, my burger cravings change day to day but a good traditional burger always hits the spot.
What's your favorite burger on the menu?
I love the Peanut Butter and Jellousy, which is made with 100% Black Canyon Angus beef, thick-cut bacon, peanut butter and strawberry jelly on a honey wheat bun. Don’t knock it until you try it!
What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs wanting to start up their own establishment?
Be a “hedgehog.” Know what your core strength is and build on that.
What do you in your spare time when you're not handling the operations of Slater's 50/50?
I spend a lot of time doing “research and development” with friends and colleagues.
What's next for you and Slater's 50/50?
We are looking into bringing the brand out of state, which is very exciting. Stay tuned!
Are you from San Diego?
I’m originally from Brooklyn NY but I grew up outside of Chicago. Because my job takes me to all of our locations, I live in South Orange County. I find San Diego to be an especially great place to not only do business but to dine and enjoy time off. Even when I didn’t live in California I would make a yearly pilgrimage to San Diego with my family to enjoy the great weather and the great people.
Did you always want to be a chef growing up?
I’m pretty lucky. This is what I have always wanted to do once I got past the policeman or fireman phase every kid goes through.
What has your journey been like leading up your current position at Slater's 50/50?
I have been lucky enough to have worked all over the U.S. I started in Illinois working for people that gave me a ton of opportunity and then I went to the CIA in NY. Form there I went back to Chicago for a few years working for East Bank Club. From there I came to California for the first time and worked as a chef in Pasadena. Then I moved to Florida and took on a regional kitchen role for Buca di Beppo. I oversaw all their kitchens in Florida and Texas. Then I went to Las Vegas and worked for King’s Fish House. I had 6 kitchens to take care of from Las Vegas to Arizona and California for King’s. I very luckily found my way to the position I have now with Slater’s 50/50. I can’t ask for a better place to be. It lets me be creative and work with an awesome team throughout all levels of the company.
What is your favorite burger on Slater’s menu?
That’s a tough question. I would have to say it’s a toss-up between the Sriracha burger and the Old Timey. Both satisfy a different craving—one is just the best bacon cheeseburger you can get and the other is great blend of savory and spicy.
What motivates you as a chef?
I am motivated by the idea of doing something I haven’t done before or at least taking an idea that maybe doesn’t work so well to start with and bringing it to another level. I like to think that way not just about food but about how I deal with my people as well. It’s great to see someone that was struggling achieve what they are capable of.
What's your favorite cuisine?
This is another hard one. I would have to say that Szechuan and Mexican vie for the number spot on a regular basis.
What's your favorite ingredient to cook with?
Whatever is really fresh or looks really good when I’m shopping. Sometimes the best things you make weren’t on the list when you went to the store. Recently I seem to be on a crazy mushroom bender. You can do a ton of fun things with mushrooms.
What is one culinary trend you're noticing in San Diego?
This may not be a new trend but it is really cool to see how well the local restaurant scene uses the local beer options with their menus. Not being from here it was definitely an eye opener just to see how many local beers there are in San Diego County. It is cool that so many places are showcasing this along with their food.
Define a good burger.
Start with great meat and season it simply. Salt and pepper is enough for me. Cook it well, I mean cook it correctly not burn it, you want to see some juice. And serve it on a soft, warm bun. From there it really depends on my mood. American cheese, Bacon and 1000 island is never bad but as long as the topping are fresh and flavorful it’s a good burger.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
A good day for me is puttering around my kitchen or being outside on my grill working on new things I have found.
What's next for you?
I am working hard to keep coming up with new and exciting things so Slater’s menu can stay fresh and relevant.