Ryan Fichter: The King of Burgers

By Greeley, Alexandra | Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The, January 5, 2012 | Go to article overview

Ryan Fichter: The King of Burgers


Greeley, Alexandra, Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The


You have got to admit that Ryan Fichter, executive chef of Georgetowns upscale burger joint, Thunder Burger & Bar, has got it pretty good. He can create and cook up one of Americas most favorite foods, and do so in a classy setting that bears no resemblance to a fast-food burger joint.

Fichters burgers are not mere patties but are signature items ranging from free-range beef to elk, boar, turkey, and bison to Kobe beef and are obviously enhanced by his classic culinary training.

A Maryland native, Fichter is a Culinary Institute of America graduate. He has worked in some top-notch restaurants, including several from the local Clydes Restaurant Group and D.C.s Smith & Wollensky. In between these various stints, he also worked in Charlotte, N.C., with James Alexander at the Myers Park Country Club, and, as he says, he got a taste for the country club atmosphere, gained appreciation of the Southern cooking, and walked off with a passion for Southern barbecue styles that is, long, slow cooking

That he has scored work in top-tier restaurants reflects his life- long passion for food and cooking. I always wanted to be a chef, said Fichter. I always loved cooking, noting that as a youngster, he often helped prepare family dinners with his mom and dad. More than that, the young Fichter became a fan of such celebrity chefs as Julia Child and Graham Kerr. With support from his family, the teenage Fichter started working as a busboy at Clydes in Columbia.

In retrospect, Fichter says he cannot pick out just one influence in his culinary career, with the possible exception of chef Kenny Clay, his mentor at Clydes. Each place Ive worked has given me unique experiences, he explained. I look at my career as a whole. I gained my love of pastries from school; of barbecue from the South; of seafood from my time in Hawaii; of fresh greens from working at Clydes.

With all the training and high-profile input from various chefs, Fichter explains that the challenge of cooking top-notch burgers appeals, especially because he enjoys incorporating game meats, such as elk, into his repertoire. …

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