Geoffrey Zakarian Weighs In On The Shake Shack Vs In-N-Out Debate - Exclusive

New York chef Geoffrey Zakarian has some strong opinions. When you're in the culinary arts, you can't be afraid to do things differently: A sharp instinct, a decisive persona, and good taste can be the differentiating traits that drive you where you want to go. These characteristics — and the choices they result in — have led Zakarian to ascend into Michelin star terrain; they've also infuriated fans of "Chopped," who hate to see him use chopsticks when he judges the show. (Zakarian has clarified that it gives him a truer and more distinct bite).

Recently, Tasting Table had the opportunity for an exclusive interview with Zakarian preceding his headline appearance at the Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival. During the wide-ranging discussion, we took the chance to ask him to weigh in on a timeless east versus west coast battle of the culinary world. A potentially hot-take: We wanted to know which burger Zakarian prefers: Shake Shack or In-n-Out?

Although a pillar of the NYC dining world, he didn't mince words or waste time. "In-n-Out, Animal Style," said Zakarian.

Geoffrey Zakarian says In-n-Out is the 'O.G.'

For those outside the In-N-Out sphere of influence, "Animal Style" burgers are a not-so-secret menu option offered by the California-based fast food chain. Customers asking for "Animal Style" on their singles or Double-Doubles will have their burgers seared with mustard and then served beneath a pickle, extra spread (sauce), and grilled onions. It's a delicious combination predicated on tangy, slightly sweet, and wholly pungent flavors. The debate may rage as to whether In-N-Out is better than Shake Shack, but anyone with tastebuds can understand why Zakarian would enjoy this style of cheeseburger.

Although Zakarian was quick to issue his preference, he was sure to include a caveat about how history plays into it all. "Shake Shack, Danny [Meyer]'s a friend," Zakarian assured, "but he loved In-N-Out before he did Shake Shack. It just shows you that you can have something that isn't quite as good as the original, but then it's wildly successful ... But the original is the original. The O.G. is the O.G."

The Los Angeles Wine & Food Festival runs from March 1-3.