Featured Foodie: Rodney Blackwell
Triple-pattied, bacon-topped, and always with a side of fries, Rodney Blackwell is on a quest to find your town’s best burger. Then he’ll put it on Burger Junkies so you can find it, too. Based in his hometown of Sacramento, California, Rodney travels the country finding, eating, photographing, and writing about the most delectable beefy sandwich creations. Drawing from a love for food photography, Rodney’s images are intense and immodest. A sloppy, half-eaten triple-cheeseburger, iceberg lettuce stuck to a bun, french fry crumbs scattered on crumpled silver paper — Rodney finds a way to make it beautiful. Or maybe there’s just something inherently appealing about all hamburgers that Rodney captures with each shot. In his reviews, he assigns his subject a number score based on five factors: bun, flavor, juiciness, value, and the ever-mysterious “B” factor–that certain unspoken something that makes each burger experience unique. From clean, artisan kielbasa sliders to a quick Quarter Pounder with Cheese, Rodney has little pretense when it comes to burger consumption: a good burger is a good burger. And while Rodney prefers his medium rare, you can be sure each Burger Junkies review will be well done.
Name: Rodney Blackwell
Blog: Burger Junkies
Hometown: Sacramento, CA
1. Okay, tell us the how Burger Junkies started. Why focus on burgers?
BurgerJunkies.com was launched in January of 2011 after I finally decided to combine my love for food and my love for food photography. I had the idea and registered the domain name several years ago, but finally put all the pieces together and launched the site in 2011. I’ve always loved photography as a hobby, and over the years I started to take pictures of some of the dishes I tried. Now I take my camera almost everywhere good food is to be found.
2. What makes a good burger?
There are lots of good burgers out there. For me, there are 5 points that can take a burger from being good to freakin’ great! This is the rating scale I use on my blog:
The Bun. This oft overlooked burger accessory is actually pretty darn important. It’s the foundation that holds the whole sandwich together. Restaurants that make this a conscious choice instead of an afterthought are well ahead of the game.
Burger Flavor. The meat itself has to be delicious. Chuck is great but rib eye is mo betta. Quality beef cuts alone can make a top notch burger.
Burger Juiciness. A dry burger is just wrong. A great burger temperature should match that of a steak medium rare or at the very least, medium.
Burger Value. This doesn’t mean burgers have to be $5 or less. You can pay too much for a .99 cent burger and a fantastic burger that gets everything right can seem like a steal for $15. When your burger exceeds expectations for the price paid, you get extra burger value points.
B Factor. This sort of covers that super subjective quality that some burgers have. There’s a bit of mystic in some of our favorite burger places. Whether it be the secret menu of In-N-Out or knowing that some of the best burgers in the world are only served a few special days out of the week. It might be the restaurant atmosphere, the fun snarky attitude of the servers or some bomb french fries that make you want to cry.
3. Where have you reviewed burgers, and where are you going next?
I’ve reviewed burgers all over the country. I’m based in Sacramento, CA, so many of my reviews are there, however, I’ve been known to drive for a good burger. I also do a bit of travel, so I always scout out great burger joints before I go. I’ve reviewed awesome burgers in Los Angeles, Orlando, Florida, Philly, San Francisco and more. My next stop is back to Orlando later this month where I’ll try one of my favorite burger finds and hopefully find a new gem.
4. Fast Food Burgers, Yay or Nay?
I’m no burger purist. There’s a time and a place for everything and every burger. One of my first burger loves is the often hated Mc Donald’s Quarter Pounder With Cheese. But these days, if I was going to have a fast food burger, it’d probably be Smashburger. I don’t usually review fast food burgers though, I try to find those places that have a burger on the menu that people wonder if they should try.
5. Veggie Burgers, Yay or Nay?
NAY!!! Umm, I mean, no. Veggie burgers are not my preference. Good day sir. I said good day!
6. Give us a few examples of your favorite, funnest, or craziest reviews.
One of my favorite reviews and burger adventures was my trip to Junior Colombian Burger in Orlando, FL in 2011. I had another great burger journey last year during my trip to the Denver Burger Battle.
My favorite, and currently top rated burger is the burger from the Hitching Post 2 restaurant in Buellton, CA. I’m working on a review right now that might top that one, so stay tuned.
7. Will you ever run out of burgers to review?
I don’t think so. Burgers seem to be popping up on a wide variety of menus. From the local bar to the white tablecloth steakhouse…I’d love to try them all. For health reasons, I may have to balance it out someday by launching saladjunkies.com.
Neysa King is the Blogger in Chief at Key Ingredient. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Photos used with permission by Rodney Blackwell.