Before Adam Fleischman fell in love with umami, he had a long affair with wine. But his first love was the written word. Fleischman studied literature in college and prepared for a life in journalism. But a trip to Burgundy after graduation sparked a culinary and oenophilic fire in the fledgling journalist, so he focused his writing on food and wine.
Fleischman quickly became immersed in the wine world. He worked for several prominent Los Angeles wine retailers and also served as a wine consultant to Tesori Imports, a top importer of European wines. Fleischman was responsible for hand picking quality wines for import to the United States, a role that not only involved objective evaluation of flavor profiles, but also assessment of their appropriateness for the American market. With so much necessary study of the national palate, Fleischman was more than ready to found—and run—two of LA’s first wine bars BottleRock and Vinoteque.
Detecting the myriad flavors in wines was an ideal primer for Fleischman’s introduction and eventual committed fascination with the fifth taste, umami. Infatuated with the so-called “savory” flavor, Fleischman developed a restaurant concept wholly dedicated to emphasizing umami through an unlikely vehicle, the all-American burger. He opened his first Umami Burger on La Brea in 2009. New locations quickly followed in Los Angeles, earning the chef a StarChefs.com 2010 Rising Star Concept Award. In 2011, Fleischman grew his group by opening fine-dining restaurant, Red Medicine, with 2010 Rising Star Chef Jordan Kahn. And in 2012, he acquired an ownership stake in L.A. Creamery Artisan Ice Cream. But Fleischman’s long game is to take his burgeoning casual empire across the country—he now has more than 20 Umami Burger locations on both coasts, and he’s expanding his fast-casual pizza concept 800°.