chef Danny Serfer has gained a cult following since he opened his small restaurant in January. Grab a seat and look around. Chances are, if you've been there more than once, you'll start to recognize the faces of regulars who come weekly -- sometimes even daily.
Serfer's biggest fan could perhaps be film director and producer Billy Corben, who drops in daily on his way to his office at Rakontur Studios.
It's Corben, you see, who has been charged with picking up lunch for the Rakontur crew. And more times than not, lunch is from Blue Collar. Corben is such a devotee of the place's food, that he recently had a sandwich named after him. It's not on the menu, but it gets a lot of chatter on Twitter. So much so, that I've been half waiting to see the Corben garner its own Twitter account, much like the Bronx Zoo's Cobra. I was curious. What is the Corben and can anyone order one?
Seeking the source, I decided to meet Billy Corben to discuss the Corben ... over a Corben.
Corben (the human) already had a spot at the small bar when I arrived at Blue Collar. As chef Serfer prepared the sandwich, Billy and I chatted.
"Blue Collar is on my way to Rakontur, so it's convenient. But there's more to it. Danny is like Chef 2.0. He cares about the end user. Other chefs are so into their food, that they forget about the customer. But Danny? He's totally about making me happy."
As we waited for the Corben to arrive, Danny brought over a plate of potato latkes topped with trout caviar. Another "off menu" item that he thought up for his recent wine-pairing dinner. Delicious.
The Corben arrived. Twin brisket sandwiches on Portuguese muffins with Dijon mustard accompanied by potato latkes and a bowl of au jus for dipping. Though the plate was enormous, the sandwiches couldn't help but spill out over the side. "Do you eat all this?"
"No. I usually have it the next day, too. For breakfast. As good as it is now, it's even better cold right out of the fridge," Corben (the human) told me.
Corben (the human) then explained the origin of his namesake. "It was very organic, actually. I love Danny's brisket, and I have it often. I mean, where can you find good brisket in south Florida, by the way?"
I offered that there were probably several lonely women in Century Village who would love to cook for him ... and then fix him up with their granddaughter.
"No thanks. I meant a restaurant. A restaurant! What restaurant in Miami has decent brisket? Blue Collar. That's it. But this was lunch, and I wanted something lighter. So I asked Danny if he could make me a brisket sandwich."
"And I had these really great Portuguese muffins," chef Danny added. "And then I added a little Dijon. Then, instead of fries? Potato latkes! You know. In keeping with the theme."
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SHOW ME HOW
After all this Corben talk, it was time to eat the Corben. Billy and I each grabbed a sandwich, doused it with a little sauce, and bit in. Rich, meaty, and way better than my mother's. "It's amazing isn't it?" asked Corben. "You want a picture? I'll send you one," showing me several pictures of the sandwich on his phone. Corben admits he's an amateur when it comes to food porn. "You know who does great food porn? Scorsese. Every scene had this amazing meal ... then someone gets whacked."
If you want to try an "off the menu" Corben, just ask for one. It's $18 for the full portion, $12 for a "Corbenito," which is one sandwich and a half portion of latkes. What's next for Serfer? Any other "secret" items? "Well, there is a hangar steak sandwich with caramelized onions and aioli sauce that Billy also likes," the chef said. Name please? "How about the Rakontur?"
And that's how a sandwich is born.