Of all the adjectives you could use to describe chef Michael Burgin, one word does not apply: orthodox. Burgin spent most of 2019 tending the grill at Jonathan Brooks’s quirky high-end draw, Beholder, but the Chef’s Academy grad who honed his skills at various Hoaglin Catering locations has also cooked for all walks of life, from celebrity events to small family weddings.
At the end of 2019, Burgin left Beholder to head up two Flipdaddy’s franchises in the Cincinnati area. When the pandemic closed those restaurants, he headed to Los Angeles, where he was able to explore the city’s rich ramen scene. After a few months, though, he was looking for a way to get back to Indy. “Jon [Brooks] let me know his Milktooth kitchen was available most weeknights,” Burgin says. “I called my brother [Jeffery Burgin], who was working at Eskenazi Hospital.” The brothers, along with co-owner Aleigha Smalls, soon started operating The Eat Factory, a twice-a-week ramen pop-up with Hoosier influences, including a katsu chicken sandwich that recalls his home state’s tenderloin.
At home, Burgin is raising his three boys and two girls to follow his lead. “If I’m making a steak, the kids will ask if I’m serving it with a demi-glace,” he says. “They’re already perfecting their knife skills and won’t leave the kitchen without wiping the counters down.” It’s the same upbringing he got from his father, a military and hospital chef who would sometimes bring his son to work with him at 4:30 a.m. “Being a chef is a leveling experience,” Burgin says. “I just want to be someone who makes good food for good people.”