Since winning the Australian Hotels Association SA Pub Burger Challenge in mid April, The Feathers Hotel has been selling more burgers than ever.
Feathers’ head chef Luke Brabin has copped the brunt of the burger’s popularity.
“We have sold six or seven hundred in the last week,” he says.
“Its my best seller, by a mile.
“Its horrendous, actually,” he jokes.
Brabin managed to pull ahead of the 49 other competitors with his signature wagyu burger.
The burgers were tasted by expert judges in a blind elimination setting, with all entries being a current menu item and priced under $25.
Judged on taste, presentation and ingredient quality, the final 12 experienced some tight competition. But what pushed Brabin’s entry over the line was his unusual use of chimichurri and potato sticks.
Australian Hotels Association SA CEO Ian Horne says the burger is often the signature of a hotel, with venues putting their own spin and style as a point of difference.
“The Hotel Industry kitchens are keeping up with market trends to be more innovative and the quality of produce is immensely important,” he says.
“Often if the burger or the schnitzel are good, then everything else is too.”
But what makes a burger the best in the state?
Luke Brabin’s top tip is to use the best local ingredients.
“I get the wagyu from my local butcher who sources it from SA,” he says.
He makes sure to grab his cheddar locally, and is a big fan of Barossa Fine Foods smoked bacon.
He prefers middle bacon, since it has fat for flavour and a bit of crunch.
As for the brioche bun, Brabin gets it from Kensington Park’s Paesano bakery.
“They make a special bread roll for me. I don’t like full brioche, so they put normal white into it, and make it half brioche.”
He says the bun’s more savoury taste goes better with the meat and keeps the spicy elements centre stage.
Brabin says that a signature element is also essential to a winning burger.
“The biggest addition to my burger is the chimichurri.
“It popped up, probably on Instagram; I saw a place in the south part of Brazil that did a version of this burger that had chimichurri with crispy potato sticks.
“This gives it a bit of bite, which pushed it over the edge. There are many burgers around, so I like to be a bit different.”
He uses his own special recipe to make the chimichurri and has refined it over three years of feeding his friends and co-workers his experimental burgers.
When it comes to preparing the beef patty, he believes less is more.
“I grind it myself, not adding anything to it apart from sea salt and pepper.”
And simplicity is key to the burger structure.
“You need to see the ingredients in the burger, but you don’t want to overfill them, it makes them horrible to eat,” he says.
“Burgers can’t do without cheese and bacon. They give it that essential smoky-cheesey flavour.”
Chips are important to enjoying any burger – the crunchier the better.
Brabin says mouthfeel is a simple but effective way to make your burger excellent.
“Lettuce isn’t so much for taste, as it is for texture. Lettuce and the potato sticks give it a satisfying crunch.”
And when it comes to easy alternatives to meat, his chickpea and smoked-corn vegan burger is a simple way to accommodate.
The prize-winning burger is available on The Terrace at Feathers Hotel on 516 Glynburn Road, Burnside.
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