How do you keep customers happy and coming back for more burgers? We asked Chef Bradley Borchardt, Cargill’s Sr. Corporate Chef of Innovation and Strategy, for his opinions on this ever-changing but persistent menu item.
Burger Cravings: What is it about burgers that make them so timeless?
Chef Brad: It really is a phenomenon. It continues to be super innovative. Burgers never seem to let go or let up. Everyone likes them, so they’re bound to please everyone — including people who aren’t as willing to branch out with food.
BC: What trends do you see in burgers? Any that are going to stick around or go away soon?
CB: There are so many! Every part of a burger allows you to seek out different bold flavors because it’s essentially a blank canvas. And there’s inspiration everywhere. You can go all over Asia, which is so condiment-centric with delicious fermented items; Latin America has amazing salsas and chile-centric garnishes that let you completely differentiate yourself. Or, get inspiration from Europe, which has the best cheeses in the world. Then think about breads, buns and lettuce wraps… there are a ton of ways to customize and make it really interesting and tasty.
BC: What about the burgers themselves?
CB: From a meat standpoint and a grind standpoint, that’s one area people are looking to branch out. You start to see really interesting blends of beef and grass-fed even. It’s a great platform to get grass-fed on your menu without there being a big financial risk.
BC: What’s the biggest challenge chefs and operators face with burgers?
CB: Consistent execution is always the underlying challenge, no matter the operation. That’s why I love the frozen-to-flattop, like our TNT™ Burgers, because it’s quite a bit more bulletproof than a lot of other avenues you can take.
BC: What are some misconceptions chefs or operators have about burgers?
CB: If you’re in a chef-heavy operation and the chef is more interested in showing off what they can do, what I call, “trying to change the world with a single plate of food,” you’re not really doing much for your customer. It’s really important for operators to understand who they’re selling to and what their diners want. Maximize what you’re doing under the concept of your restaurant. That way, everyone wins.