Joseph Mahon is a man with a plan. He's got his own secret burger bun recipe, mentors to look up to, and more vision that someone who's done Lasik. Our local boy is back to explain the backstory behind his part-time parlor, plus clues us in on how to receive BP specials. Having trouble keeping up? Why don't you start with Part One first?
Hardest lesson you've learned:
Personal/business relationships never really end, they just transition.
What would your last meal on Earth be?
My mom's beef stroganoff.
Who's your hero, culinary or otherwise?
At the top of the list are my parents. I would be nothing without their support. I also look up to business people, not chefs. Founder of Pet Sense, Dennis Curley; Owner of That's Entertainment, John McEntee; President of International Pacific Seafoods, Jeff Moore. They are very successful leaders in their own individual fields, and are role models in their communities. I am fortunate enough that I can call them up and receive great business advice. It's better than a book.
When you're not at work, where do you like to eat?
Anything ethnic; Korean BBQ or pho seems to always be on the list.
Where are you from originally, and how did you decide on Orange County to pop up Burger Parlor?
I grew up in La Habra; it's a homecoming of sorts. I always envisioned building a brand around the area I grew up in. I want to change and contribute on improving the culinary scene in Orange County. Nothing makes me happier than guests coming in and saying we came to Burger Parlor instead of going to Los Angeles. Orange County wants this type of quality, and I want to give it to them.
Why a pop-up? We imagine folks wanting to eat this for more than dinner, four nights a week.
Yes, I agree. I am working on it (smiley face). People press me all the time. However, the price of business is expensive, especially without any partners.
How do you know the crew at Rialto Cafe (Great choice of space, by the way.)?
I struck up a conversation with Leslie [Morter, the owner] one morning. I invited her to one of my 'Pop-Ups' in Los Angeles….the rest is history.
What makes for a juicy burger, and which is featured throughout your website?
Technique, carefully sourced ingredients, and a whole lotta heart! That's the $26 'Bastide' burger I created that started it all.
Who is your fresh bun supplier?
Nobody in OC has it. Nobody. It's my own special recipe I developed with a small baking company.
What dish would you tell newcomers to Burger Parlor to try first?
The Chip Shot; it's now our signature burger. We also have three to four off-menu burgers for anyone who wants to text 'Burger Parlor' to 90210. I give a text every week on exclusive deals and specials. Last week we did our interpretation of the 'Big Mac'.
What would you be doing if you weren't in this business?
In marketing and advertising off Madison Avenue.
What advice do you have for those who might be thinking about a career in food?
1. Forget school. School debt will haunt you.
2. Passion will only get you so far. Have short term and long term goals.
3. Get some serious experience in a good kitchen and decide from there.
What do you see yourself doing in five years? Ten years?
Owning more Burger Parlors and developing my catering and home delivery business. I want to have as many Burger Parlors on this planet as possible.
A contributing writer for OC Weekly, Anne Marie freelances for multiple online and print publications, and guest judges for culinary competitions. A Bay Area transplant, she graduated with a degree in Hospitality Management from Cal Poly Pomona. Find her on Instagram as brekkiefan.