Chef Michael Garbin - Executive Chef, Union League Club of Chicago

Kraft On Craft

Chef Michael Garbin takes the Kraft Challenge

Executive Chef, Union League Club of Chicago

There's no better way to get acquainted with chefs than through their cooking. It reveals style, methodology, technique and flair. Challenge chefs to create something new and exciting, and perhaps a bit daring, and you invoke culinary passion.

This recipe challenge takes us to the Union League Club of Chicago, a venerable city club in the heart of Chicago. We called on its executive chef, Michael Garbin, CEC, AAC, and asked him to create a recipe using a Kraft product. He came back to us with his hearty Double-Stack Cheeseburger that relies on not one, but five Kraft products.

Union League Club of Chicago - Operation Stats: 3 restaurants - 3 day parts served - 750-1,100 covers daily

Rustic delivery

"I wanted to update the classic burger with an infusion of lots of different, interesting flavors," says Chef Garbin. "Kraft helped me do that. I was really pleased how all the flavors and textures complemented each other. And the Velveeta, which is such a great melting cheese, gave me that rustic feel I was going for with this dish."

For his Double-Stack Cheeseburger, Chef Garbin basted the first beef patty with Bull's-Eye Spicy Hot Barbecue Sauce. The second patty was basted with his Jalapeño Ketchup Glaze. "The spiciness and depth of the barbecue sauce played beautifully against the hot-sweet kick of the jalapeño-infused ketchup," he says.

For crunch, he added Oscar Mayer Bacon Bits and onion straws that he battered in Good Seasons Ranch Dry Salad Dressing and buttermilk. They were then deep-fried until golden brown and placed on top of the first patty. "The ranch boosted the flavor of the onion rings and the bacon gave it a nice smoke," says Chef Garbin.

He chose Velveeta Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product and ChedaSharp Pasteurized Cheese for the Double-Stack, looking for a contrast in texture and mouthfeel. "The Velveeta was so creamy, and the cheddar gave me that full-bodied flavor I wanted," he says."

Behind the Chef – Inspiration comes from new challenges

Chef Garbin finds inspiration through the challenge of being creative while meeting the demands of his job. He also measures success by a careful balance of career and family. "You need to be able to focus on work and exceed expectation, but you also need to successfully separate it from your home life," says Garbin. "That is the ultimate challenge in this profession."

Chef Garbin Unplugged

Chef Garbin can often be found in the dish room – inspecting the dirty dishes that come in from his three restaurants at the Union League Club of Chicago. "I look at the dirty dishes to see how much has been eaten," he says. "What did they leave behind? Were the portions too big? Looking at the plates tells me a lot."

He also maintains a visible presence in the dining room, welcoming diner feedback. "I need to be approachable, so I can really know what's working on the menu, and what can be modified."

"One of the challenges of a city club is that we cater to a closed population. We need to stay cutting edge, but we also need to serve old favorites," says Chef Garbin. Kraft products help him do both.

Here are a few highlights from our interview with Chef Garbin.


If you were sent to a desert island, what 3 ingredients would you take with you?


Champagne, fire and a spice box.


What is your favorite kitchen tool?


My French chef knife.


Where was the last place you dined?


Raffi's on 5th, a Mediterranean restaurant in Naperville, Illinois.


What is your favorite Kraft product?


Velveeta cheese. It's a wonderful product with great day-part crossover. I use it in breakfast, lunch and dinner items.

What's next for Chef Michael Garbin?

In October, the Union League Club will host 1,200 guests for a Homecoming event. Five floors of the club will be set up with different food-themed stations.

Double-stack cheeseburger
Chef Michael Garbin'sDouble-Stack Cheeseburger
Chef Garbin – Union League Club