LOS ANGELES — Adam Gertler, whose Food Network appearances include "The Next Food Network Star," "Kid in a Candy Store" and "Will Work for Food," recently began making all of the sausages served at Dog Haus, the Pasadena, Calif.-based chain of amped-up hot dog restaurants. (Dog Haus is expanding faster than you can say "spicy Thai red currywurst," with 11 franchises sold and 42 planned locations in Southern California, Utah and Denver.)
Gertler graduated from Syracuse University, pursued stage work and moved to L.A. to continue his acting career. But his interest in food, and especially barbecue, led him to his post as executive chef of his brother's Philadelphia restaurant, the Smoked Joint. Now he's launched his own line of sausages, Gertler's Wurst, and is working with Dog Haus on creations such as the Thanksgivukkah dog: a turkey sausage with whiskey-soaked cranberries, maple sweet potatoes, rosemary, thyme and sage, topped with latkes.
Q: What's coming up next on your menu?
A: Up next I have two new sausages that Dog Haus will feature exclusively. One is Italian-inspired: smoked chicken with fresh arugula, basil and Romano cheese. We're also doing a beer bratwurst made with Firestone Double Barrel Ale. These will be on the regular menu starting in January.
Q: Latest ingredient obsession?
A: I love making bread at home. I've been nurturing a starter named Sebastian for two years, and I feel like he's finally coming into his own, giving my bread a real "sour" flavor. I get tremendous satisfaction making bread with a nice crumb that contains no commercial yeast. It feels very Walter White. I make a caraway rye hot dog bun for my pastrami dog that I'm really hoping to get into Dog Haus. It's the only way to experience a true Reuben Dog.
Q: What's your favorite breakfast?
A: Soft, fluffy, scrambled eggs with lox (added after cooking the eggs, please don't cook the lox) packed into a scooped everything bagel with scallion cream cheese, a slice of tomato and Muenster cheese. It is the height of the Jewish cuisine I was raised with.
Q: Your favorite day off away from the kitchen is ...
A: I have to say my other job, which is nonfood-related. I get to talk about cool movies with Sasha Perl-Raver on a show called "FX Movie Download" on FX. It's so far from the laborious task of making sausage, which I still love, but sausage mixture gets in your arm hair something fierce like meat cement. I also just love watching movies for hours at a time.
Q: What chef has most influenced you?
A: I know it's not going to be a popular answer among "serious" chefs, but Emeril Lagasse. I discovered Food Network as a freshman in college in 1995. I grew up pretty sheltered, as far as food goes, on Long Island. My eyes widened at the crazy foods he made on his show. I had never heard of Cajun or Creole food before, and I just wanted whatever ludicrousness he made. Fried stuff piled with crabmeat, sausages for every day of the week, enough shellfish to make a rabbi blush. After college my friends and I made several pilgrimages to New Orleans for the Jazz & Heritage Festival, and I fell in love with the entire culture in person. I still go to New Orleans as often as possible and have been fortunate enough to shoot there many times. It's my favorite place to visit and eat way too much food. The foods of Louisiana influence my own cooking. Not even direct recipes as much as the sense of whimsy and passion they have for food down there. I owe all that to watching that dude on the TV.