The Melting Pot: Brilliant Burgers

Consumers continue to flip out over burgers – they simply can’t get enough of them! According to KantarWorldpanel, burger sales have been climbing steadily for the last five years, and the market has grown 9.1% in that time with a current estimated worth of £113million.

We spent a massive £2.6billion on burgers out of home in 2017 with 56% of the population choosing to indulge. However, with growing importance placed on artisanal ingredients, healthy eating, premiumisation and customisation, how can operators ensure their burgers stand out from the crowd? We grilled the nation’s best flippers to find the most interesting recipes and combos to get your burger menu bang on trend.

Jean- Christophe Novelli, TV Chef and Restaurateur 

The burger has somewhat become an institution of the British Isles, with cafes, gastro pubs and restaurants delivering delicious hand-crafted burgers to their discerning guests. Chefs and operators alike have realised that, to stay ahead of the game, the best burger must start with excellent seasonal produce, well-matured ground beef, free range chicken, and sustainable seafood, mouth-watering pickles, artisan cheeses – with crafted stone baked bread rolls, together producing a mouth-watering burger. 2019 sees diners looking for vegan and vegetarian creativity, incorporating plant-based ingredients like pea protein isolate, quinoa, refined coconut oil, chickpeas, when combined creating delightful burgers.

Daniel Duprat- Foodservice manager, Bennett Opie

The days of when a burger consisted of two halves of a white bun, a patty and limp lettuce are long gone and caterers need to ensure their menu offer has more varied choice. Today, with everything being captured on Instagram Stories, visual appeal is vital, but taste and presentation still need to be at the forefront to gain repeat business and recommendations. Caterers need to find ingredients that can be used across an entire menu for a wide selection of dishes, whether they are meat or plant based. There is still a pull towards classics, so one must-have ingredient has to be the humble gherkin. Love them or loathe them, quite frankly, a burger isn’t the same without a tasty, crunchy gherkin. They go just as well with grilled meats as they do with things like bean burgers and jackfruit.

Michael Benson- founder of the cutting room, a seasonal small plates restaurant, bar and art gallery in the heart of Fitzrovia 

We offer two burger sliders on our menu: Wagyu Beef Sliders – made with Shiitake mushrooms and onion confit,  Ogleshield cheese, bacon mayonnaise, shaved truffle – and Mushroom and Truffle Sliders, topped with guacamole and roasted red pepper salsa.

Michael’s tips for perfect burgers:

  • Buy the best meat you can, preferably from a single animal.
    Fat content is important – 20% is perfect in my opinion
  • Don’t add anything to the meat, just season it before you cook it
  • Don’t overcook your meat
  • Keep it simple with burger toppings; choose toppings that enhance the meat flavour. Introducing too many flavours and e.g. spicy sauces defeats the object. You want to taste the meat!
  • Always use a fresh soft bun– it doesn’t have to be a brioche!

Fergus Martin -Executive development chef for Major International 

For an easy way to keep your burger offer on trend, simply brush any Major Mari Base onto your cooked burgers and finish them with a little bit of Mari Base mixed into mayonnaise. This will work for both your plant-based and meat options as the entire range is suitable for vegetarians and nine of the 12 are also suitable for vegans. Why not try using the Moroccan Mari Base in a shredded Moroccan lamb burger with pickled red cabbage or use the Mediterranean in a spicy chickpea and falafel burger topped with Mediterranean tomato and red pepper chutney.

Ollie Bragg- Vegetarian for life roving Chef 

There are so many variations of veggie burger out there and some can, if not careful, turn out to be a sloppy mess. Great bases for veggie burgers are all varieties of beans or chickpeas and various nuts, which are all staple pantry items. However, my favourite has to be mushroom and chestnut burgers. It’s super simple, tasty and offers that meaty texture that some people crave.

Djalma Lucio Polli De Carvalho- Country Range customer and head chef of Queensmill School, west London

We make a spicy chicken burger served on pretzel bread, which goes down really well with our pupils. We make the patties using minced chicken and caramelised onions with some gluten-free breadcrumbs, garlic and Country Range Piri Piri Seasoning and leave them to marinade overnight. We griddle them and then finish them in the oven and serve them with chilli mayonnaise (made with Country Range Real Mayonnaise and Country Range Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce) and Asian slaw. We let the children add their own salad.

Ben Bartlett- celebrity chef and brand ambassador for Lion Sauces, from AAK Foodservice 

For a rich and juicy ‘bleeding’ vegan option, try stacked vegan beet burgers. Bake foil-wrapped beetroots until soft, whizz with mushrooms, black beans, garlic, smoked paprika, cumin, mushroom juice and gluten-free flour, then form into patties, chill and bake. As a burger alternative, pulled jackfruit has quickly moved from last year’s hot trend to this year’s menu fixture. However, jackfruit dishes often lack in the protein stakes, so make yours a good one by cooking protein-rich beans into the mixture. Top with crunchy slaw made with Lion Premium Vegan Mayo and serve in a dairy-free bun.

Matthew White- chair of the University Caterers Organisation (TUCO) 

With the growing number of Millennial and Gen Z consumers seeking meat-free dishes, artisanal ingredients and healthier eating,
chefs are constantly looking for new and interesting ways to meet their demands. Our Global Food and Beverage Trends report 2018 found that plant-based offerings are getting tastier and more tempting. Plantbased burger alternatives have got much better and tempt carnivore and herbivores alike with towering burgers oozing with cheese, or deep-fried mock fish and chicken. Our report also found restaurants in the US are now serving The Impossible Burger made from protein and 3D printers.

Matt Tebbit- head of residential catering and bars, University of Reading 

Our team have been looking at burger trends, tempting customers with innovative combinations such as the Dairy’s Buttermilk Chicken Burger in a charcoal brioche bun with Emmenthal cheese and a BBQ glaze. Plant-based options are becoming more tempting to all, following in the footsteps of the bleeding and Impossible Burgers with spelt and beetroot being a favourite. Two of our sites have switched across to an excellent vegan brioche style bun for all customers, that is both healthier and very difficult to distinguish from a real brioche bun. We are about to launch into the business a tasty vegan cheese that again is very similar to its dairy cousin. With our beef burgers, we have been serving an Exmoor beef burger with a great back story involving the National Trust. We have worked on our side dish accompaniments, looking at various seasonings for our fries and introducing yucca fries as an alternative. It is definitely a fast-moving time for burgers!