Neil Perry got into the burger game with the backing of hospitality giant Rockpool Dining Group, with the number of Burger Project outlets now in double digits. Part of the reason for their success is Perry’s uncompromising attitude to consistency, whether it is at a fine dining level or fast food price point. “As far as consistency is concerned the devil is in the detail,” he says. “I’ve just opened the 12th Burger Project in Brisbane and I keep talking about bringing the Rockpool culture of care over but most importantly the mantra of think big but act small. We look and strive to find the best ingredients in the country, the best suppliers and the best producers.” Quality ingredients are the staple of the premium burger, according to Robert Aston, general manager national operations at specialist butcher Top Cut Foods. “We believe that using quality meat is crucial to standing out from the pack,” he says.
“Having a juicy, delicious burger made from top quality meat and made by food professionals with passion is something a lot of consumers are willing to pay good money for. People trust these venues to make great burgers and they must trust their supply partners to deliver a quality and consistent product to ensure that their customers keep returning.” Top Cut Foods offers three different variations on the beef burger including The Classic, The Angus and The Wagyu. “A beef burger is not just a beef burger these days,” Aston says. “People are far more discerning about their beef and we have catered to that. Many burger outlets are going beyond a beef burger and we also have The Lamb Burger, which is made using only quality lamb forequarter.”
Luke Mangan has also brought his fine-dining sense of focus to his burger offering, with Chicken Confidential using only organic chicken in its menu of burgers. “I had always wanted to open a new fast food concept, so when the opportunity arose I knew that I wanted to focus on quality fast food, using organic chicken for our burgers,” he says. “We have always had a great relationship with Inglewood Chicken so it made sense to have organic chicken as the star of our menu and our main point of difference out there in the market place. We do have one beef and vegetarian burger but our chicken burgers are the best sellers by a mile.” Asked if he had looked at his peers, such as Perry, before deciding on chicken as the hero for his burgers, he says not.
“We wanted to create our own fast food concept with a focus on fresh, organic chicken – that was always our point of difference out there in the market place;” he says. “I think chefs like Chase Kojima with his sushi rice burgers has developed a really great concept and something different that customers are really embracing – there is a big enough market for quality fast food these days.” A newcomer to the burger scene is BEN’s Supernatural on Melbourne’s Chapel Street, with founder Casey George-Jolson looking to put a healthy spin on their fast food. Every item on the BEN’S menu is backed up by macro nutritional data available on their website. Customers can view the nutritional profile of not just every meal, but each individual ingredient, along with detailed information about allergens and dietary requirements. But is there such a thing as a healthy burger? “Absolutely. Any meal can be healthy,” says George-Jolson.
“The problem with fast food like burgers is that they’re generally made using low quality, heavily processed ingredients. Buns and sauces in particular are more often than not loaded with preservatives, sugar and saturated fats. At BEN’S we make everything in house including our burger buns and sauces to very strict nutritionist approved guidelines. All of our food is 100 per cent natural, unprocessed, GMO free, low in saturated fat and sodium, and refined sugar free. That’s just about as healthy as you can get, burger or not.” BEN’s currently has seven burgers on the menu and the choice of buns includes organic sourdough, gluten free or low carb.
“We really wanted to offer a low carb option of peoples favourite fast food, which is generally loaded with carbs and therefore off limits to anyone following a low carb diet,” she says. BEN’s low carb buns contain no more than 6 per cent carbohydrate, which works out at 7g of carbs per serve, less than half that of a slice of bread. “We basically wanted to offer something for everybody, meat eaters, pescatarians, vegans,” she says. “Every burger had to taste amazing whilst at the same time meet our very strict nutritional values.”