Big Chief, Little Chief

October  4, 2022
5 Ratings
  • Makes 4 burgers
Author Notes

I grew up near Woodward Avenue in Royal Oak, famous for the Woodward Dream Cruise. During the 1960s, Woodward was the place to cruise and be seen at any of the drive-in restaurants - Big Boy, Mavericks, Big Town, Hobo's, Ted's including The Totem Pole which served a double decker burger called "The Big Chief" and a single called "The Little Chief". This one was different than other doubles because of its unusual sauce and that it included sweet pickles.I give my take on "The Little Chief" here: —inpatskitchen

What You'll Need
  • For the sauce
  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • For the burgers
  • 1 1/2 pounds pounds ground beef chuck
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 slices American cheese
  • Sliced sweet pickles ( the small gherkin kind)
  • Shredded iceberg lettuce
  • The sauce
  • 4 seeded hamburger buns
  1. For the sauce
  2. Combine all ingredients and refrigerate for at least 2 hours for the flavors to blend.
  1. For the burgers
  2. Season the ground beef with the salt and pepper and form 4 patties out of the mixture. Grill to your desired "doneness" ( we like medium for ground meats).
  3. On the bottom of each burger bun layer a slice of cheese, a burger, a few slices of sweet pickle and a little shredded lettuce.
  4. Slather the cut side of the top of the bun with the sauce. Place on top of the burger and enjoy!
  5. NOTE: To make a "Big Chief", divide the meat to form 8 thinner patties, use 2 pieces of cheese for each burger and use the bottom halves of spare buns to "divide". Sauce all 3 buns.

See what other Food52ers are saying.


Recipe by: inpatskitchen

I think I get my love for food and cooking from my mom, who was an amazing cook. She would start baking and freezing a month before Christmas in order to host our huge open house on Christmas afternoon. I watched and I this day I try not to procrastinate when it comes to entertaining. My cooking style is pretty much all over the place, although I'm definitely partial to Greek and Italian cuisine. Oh yes, throw a little Cajun in there too!

2 Reviews

Rod October 18, 2022
While in high school in 1968 I actually worked in a Burger Chef in Cincinnati, Oh and among other tasks made the sauce. It was a tartar sauce made from onions, miracle whip, dill relish, onions and hot sauce. It was used for the Big Chef and the fish sandwiches. The recipe listed here is nothing like what we actually served. I was the relief manager running the night shift, also doing the prep for the following day. We cut all of our fries from fresh potatoes every night no frozen bagged fries.
Annette March 9, 2024
Your Big chef and Totem Pole’s big chief are entirely different. Only in Michigan and only one Totem Pole on Woodward ave in Royal Oak, now long gone. This sauce is unique and is now served with the original recipe at Duggans restaurant in
Oak. It’s one to savor and enjoy!