Zombie Burger and Drink Lab

From 2011, please enjoy this interview with Chef Formaro of Zombie Burger and Drink Lab, reprinted from Zombie Zone News:

Picking Brains with Wednesday Lee Friday: Chef George Formaro


Regular readers know that I get to interview all sorts of cool purveyors of undead culture—actors, novelists, musicians, directors, photographers, and so forth. This is the first time I’ve ever interviewed a chef, because let’s face it, zombie food doesn’t sound altogether palatable for the living.
And yet…Zombie Burger and Drink Lab is set to open in Des Moines in just a few short days. A harbinger of undead things to come? Perhaps. An atmospheric space with a killer menu of horror and zombie-inspired faire? For sure. Tuesday, August 30th is opening night—and man, you do NOT want to miss it. Burger lovers, zombie fans, even those silly vegetarian types will find something to love on Chef Formaro’s extensive menu—which is designed to look like a newspaper during a zombie outbreak. Safehouse-inspired décor and awesome murals create a fun atmosphere for families, while the Drink Lab section serves alcohol just for the grown-ups.

Okay…I sound more like a commercial than an interviewer. I’ll admit it, I love cheeseburgers almost as much as I love zombies. They are nature’s perfect food. Imagine the joy of a gourmand such as myself having the opportunity to interview Chef Formaro on his truly unique and awesome restaurant!

WLF/ZZN: Chef Formaro, you’ve created an establishment that combines two of my favorite things on this Earth: zombies, and burgers. What inspired you to bring horror and comfort food together in such an unorthodox way?
Zombie movies and burgers both have an element of fun about them, and I’ve always been a fan of both. So it just seemed like a fun idea to put them together. And once we started talking about it, the concept kind of took off on its own. The people of Des Moines have really been getting into the idea, and we’re not even open yet!

WLF/ZZN: Unlike the usual human nosh in a zombie movie, your menu is extensive, mouth-watering and diverse. What makes your menu well suited to horror fans?
Well, the food is fantastic for both horror and non-horror fans. It’s the zombie-movie theme of the menu that makes it fun for horror fans. If you’re a fan of the genre, then you’ll get the jokes in the names, like the "They’re Coming To Get You, Barbara" burger. (WLF note: Ha!)

WLF/ZZN: Why Des Moines?
Des Moines is a great city. There are a lot of smart, fun people here who get the kind of thing we’re doing with Zombie Burger. Plus it’s where I live, and probably always will, so I want to make sure this town has places like this that you won’t really find anywhere else.


WLF/ZZN: A lot of your menu items have a definite family-friendly vibe. As a person without kids, I was delighted to see that the Drink Lab features a more grown-up atmosphere. Any specialty drinks we grown-ups should be trying?
My favorite drink is the Zombie, big shocker huh? Also, adding booze to the milkshakes is a must have! I like the Cherry Darling with vodka.

WLF/ZZN: ZZN fans would love to hear about your horror cred. Who are your horror heroes?
When I was a kid, I loved the old-time horror movies, so if you’re talking actors, I was always a big fan of Lon Chaney and his Phantom of the Opera. And Lon Jr.’s WolfMan. And I loved Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein.
If you’re talking movie characters, I’d go with Barbara from Night of the Living Dead. I actually own the zombie prop head of Uncle Rege and the fire poker that Barbara used to kill him from the 1990 remake!

WLF/ZZN: Do you worry that zombies will be offended at the many, many vegetarian selections?
My experience with zombies is that they’re hard to offend. And who knows, the more civilized undead might actually like the fact that you can get any of our burgers with the vegetarian patty. It’s got to be a little boring eating brains all the time

WLF/ZZN: Are "Jersey Rippers" as terrifying as they sound?
Rippers are a Jersey thing. Throwing the dogs in hot oil causes them to rip. Thought it was apropos for our concept…and tasty !

WLF/ZZN: Are any menu items directly inspired by horror films?
In Planet Terror is a BBQ sauce. Loved the JT’s Bone Shack setting for a chunk of that movie. No blood in our sauce though. And we have fun names tied in all over. We thought it would be cool for Zombie fans to see where our minds were when we were creating the burgers. The Horde is a French zombie movie and the burger is a Franco inspired burger. The Romero Pittsburgher is our take on a famous sandwich joint in Pittsburgh.

WLF/ZZN: I understand that the burgers and Jersey Rippers are served on custom rolls you’ve developed yourself. Do all those rolls ever make you nervous, given the events in Night of the Living Bread?
We have been doing some really crazy, diabolical stuff with liquid nitrogen, CO2 siphons and other unmentionables, it would not shock me if the bread were to be tampered with and get out of control. Yes, it has been a concern of mine.

WLF/ZZN: Is the Zombie Burger and Drink Lab well situated for zombie defense?
Personally I think a spiked shake is the perfect defense to monster attacks of all kinds. But for those who are worried, I have been assured by the building’s architects that the walls and windows can withstand horde levels of zombies.

WLF/ZZN: Please tell us a bit about the artist(s) who created the zombie themed murals?
Ron Wagner is a local illustrator who does amazing work. He created three large-scale murals of zombies taking over Des Moines that are prominently featured throughout the space. For more information on Ron, please visit:http://www.rjwagner.com/biography.shtml

WLF/ZZN: Thanks so much for the interview, Chef. I predict that the opening will be attended by hordes of…something.

In case anyone is not familiar:

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