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Samuel Monsour on Greasy Spoon Memories

Not only did jm Curley's executive chef, Samuel Monsour whip up an amazing special for Greasy Spoons Week, but he also told Eater about his favorite greasy spoons of yesterday and today, working in his parents' restaurant, which was a greasy spoon although he didn't realize it at the time, and more.

What's your favorite greasy spoon in the Boston area right now, and what do you eat there?
My favorite greasy spoon in Boston has to be Mangia Mangia. It's on Endicott Street in the North End, literally a stone's throw from my apartment. I always get their bacon cheeseburger with the works. It's one of the best burgers in Boston. For real. And it's only $4. Also, they do a soup of the day that gives the old timers across the street reason to stay alive.

Have you ever worked in a greasy spoon? Any favorite spots to eat at from your childhood?
I didn't know it at the time, but my parents' bar & grill (Chapel Hill) that I grew up working in was a greasy spoon. It seems like the best joints down South are. Aside from NY diners, my fondest greasy spoon experiences come the Carolinas. This past May, I went home to attend my sister's law school graduation. The two of us got pretty banged up in Raleigh and ended up at a hot dog joint called Snoopy's, where you can get a two-dog combo with fries and a drink for $6.44. Double cheeseburgers run $3.89.

Snoopy%27s%20-%20sam%20monsour%20-resized.jpgWe stood in line behind a pimp and his three hoes. Seriously. As the line brought us closer to the cashier, our eyes became bigger that our stomachs. We ended up ordering $30 worth of food for just the two of us, which at Snoop's is unheard of. By the time we finished placing our order, hoes' heads were straight turning yo. While awaiting our chow, the pimp went back to the cashier and was all like, "Yo I forgot to order a bologna burger." My sister and I made pupil-dilating eye contact. We had so much to process. First, we just saw a pimp order a bologna burger for one of his hoes, a moment I will cherish forever. Second, we fucked up and forgot to order a bologna burger to split. That's def on my rader next time I go home.

In some ways, jm Curley feels like an upscale greasy spoon — a place where regulars can indulge in comfort food and feel like they're at a second home. How do you nurture kind of a greasy spoon feel without the negative aspects of the greasy spoon aesthetic?
I love cooking food heavy on comfort, junk and soul. To me, that's true American cuisine. Respectively, that's what most greasy spoons offer. At jm Curley, we approach this style of cookery with an emphasis on love, care and integrity. We spend a little more time learning about regional American distinctions, and a lot more time making sure that we are sourcing responsibly. We attempt to nurture an environment where our staff is provided with continued education. We also encourage both staff and patrons to feel comfortable being themselves, and I think that helps us out a lot. The result is a very non-pretentious vibe, but with a savvy, well-informed service team. And then there's the literal difference. We clean a lot. I don't think greasy spoons like to clean. Especially their flatware, hence the colloquial term. Or maybe that has to do with how fatty their food is; I don't know.
· All coverage of jm Curley on Eater [~EBOS~]
· All coverage of Greasy Spoons Week on Eater [~EBOS~]
[Photos: top — Samuel Monsour/Rachel Leah Blumenthal; bottom — Snoopy's/Samuel Monsour]

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