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Brave new burger: The humble American sandwich goes gourmet

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Chef Celinda Norton uses ground lamb in her Market Burger at Seattle's 94 Stewart (Photo by Sean Balko)

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Daniel Boulud's $32 burger infused with braised short ribs and fois gras at DB Bistro Moderne in New York City (Photo by H. Amiard)


Eric Ripert's gourmet burger at his new Westend Bistro in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Rachel Cothran)

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"Hamburger America" author George Motz loves this not-so-gourmet burger with pickels and onions only, from Hudson's in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho (Photo by George Motz)

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Hamburgers are now elaborate culinary creations, with truffles, foie gras, gruyere and bacon compote taking the place of a simple ground beef patty topped with pickles and mustard. But is over-gourmetization by top chefs a help or hindrance to the humble spirit of this classic American sandwich?