With Cincinnati’s Burger Week wrapping up, and Louisville’s Burger Week ramping up, we are paying tribute to America’s beloved sweetheart – the Hamburger! This week we are featuring Louisville restaurants Naïve and Nostalgic Cocktail House, which have two different burgers featured for Louisville’s Burger Week.
We spoke with Catherine Mac Dowall, owner and operator of Naïve and Nostalgic. Catherine began her career in the restaurant industry over 16 years ago, working her way up the ladder from hostess, line cook and every job in between to becoming an Operations Manager for Michelin Star and James Beard Award-winning Chef Jose Andres. Catherine brought her passion for culinary excellence to Louisville in 2016, opening Naïve, starting as just a concept at a 10X10 tent at a farmers market. From its humble beginnings, Naïve has flourished into a thriving enterprise, including catering, wholesale services, and the brick-and-mortar restaurant. In February of this year, Catherine opened her second restaurant, Nostalgic. She is soon to be featured in a CNN documentary put on by Bobby Flay, so keep your eye out for Catherine!
WCW: Your menus at Nostalgic and Naïve are incredibly diverse. What makes something like Burger Week exciting to you?
This is our first burger week and we are excited about it! We’ve had a ton of success during Restaurant Week and Burger Week seemed like another opportunity to introduce ourselves to people who haven’t made it here yet. It’s a great approachable way for new people to experience us.
WCW: Can you tell us about any unique burger ingredients or flavor combinations that you’ll be featuring during Louisville Burger Week?
At Naïve we are featuring a really unique burger. It has two beef patties, a yuzu koshu aioli, basil relish and a ton of mozzarella cheese, all on a homemade sesame potato roll.
At Nostalgic we are featuring a classic burger – our Smash Burger. It has two lacey thin beef patties with seared onions smashed into them, American cheese and burger sauce on a homemade sesame potato roll. It is such a classic burger, but the quality of the ingredients really make it special. It is one of our most popular menu items.
WCW: How important is the sourcing of meat for your burger creations, and what factors do you consider when selecting the best quality beef for your patties?
We just started serving beef at Naïve this year. We served nearly every other type of protein and our customer base was asking for it. We have always sourced very sustainably at the restaurant, using as many local ingredients as we possibly can to put really great seasonal dishes on the menu. So, when we added beef, working with Berry Beef and knowing they are local was important to us.
We brought that same philosophy to our new restaurant as well. I put a huge emphasis on doing things the right way, and the right way for me is supporting the local community.
Berry Beef is a cooperative model developed by Kentucky farmers to provide chefs and institutions with a consistent supply of regionally-raised beef.
Berry Beef cattle are raised on pasture their entire lives, eating a blend of grass and locally-grown grains. This produces the well-marbled cuts your customers love, while maintaining high animal welfare and environmental standards. Berry Beef is distributed exclusively through What Chefs Want to cities across the country.
Search Berry Beef in the app or item #26695
WCW: Seeing how much you love local food, are there any specific local ingredients or flavors from Kentucky that you love to showcase?
We are currently obsessed with sorghum. It’s a really intriguing ingredient and so versatile!
You can find sorghum in Nostalgic’s Weisenberger Grits, Crispy Brussel Sprouts, Grilled Broccolini, and Sweet Tea Fried Chicken. You can also find sorghum on some of Naïve’s tasting menus.
If you are shopping the What Chefs Want app and are interested in sorghum, you can find Bourbon Barrel Foods Pure Cane Sweet Sorghum with item #93514
WCW: Do you have a personal favorite burger combination or flavor profile that you always go for when you go out to eat?
It really depends on the mood I’m in. If I’m looking for something that is that comforting, I gravitate towards something I’ve had and know, but if I’m feeling adventurous, I’ll reach for something with ingredients that I’m not as familiar with or something where the preparation is unique.
WCW: Who are some of your biggest culinary inspirations?
My old boss, Jose Andres is a huge inspiration to me, not only for his culinary background, but for his business acumen. I truly admire him!
It’s hard to pinpoint a singular person or restaurant. With everyone online and at our fingertips, we can really see and explore what other restaurants and chefs are doing anywhere in the world. It never used to be that way.
I do love going out to the West Coast and trying all the different restaurants throughout LA. Gjelina Group is such a staple in LA and Rustic Canyon was doing some really interesting things that we pull inspiration from as well.
WCW: How do you stay innovative and ahead of the curve?
I believe in not taking your foot off the gas, because once you do, someone is right behind you to pass you. Always try to be creative, reinvent yourself and push your comfort zone and your customers comfort zones!
Both Naïve and Nostalgic are open six days a week and have menus that change seasonally.
To visit their websites, peruse their menus and see their business hours, visit: