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All hail the burger

Burgers have become big business for the foodservice sector. Consumers can’t get enough of them and establishments specialising in premium quality burgers are becoming commonplace. Recognising the opportunity for increased profit, caterers throughout the industry are improving their burger offering with world flavours, tasty buns and innovative sauces

The burger remains the nation’s number one dish, according to data analyst Horizons, so operators need to ensure that they don’t miss out on the opportuni ties this cash cow brings with it. In addition, during the summer months, the burger makes an ideal BBQ option. Couple these two correctly and you should be on to a winning formula.

“A grill or barbecue appeals to the senses so it’s important to make customers feel part of the experience with a clear view and smell of the cooking process,” advises Rob Cunningham, owner of Maynard’s Farm, near Shrewsbury, Shropshire. “There is a real sense of nostalgia involved – of getting back to basics. This presents an opportunity to create a sense of theatre and draw in hungry customers.”

EBLEX steps up to the plate

Responding to the surge in demand for fresh burgers, EBLEX has developed a premium–quality burger range featuring single muscle beef cuts from the rump, chuck and brisket. Designed to meet consumer expectations on quality, flavour and value for money, the range – comprising Premium Rump Steak Burger, Premium Brisket Steak Burger, Premium Chuck Steak Burger and Premium Extra Lean Burger – also delivers healthy gross profits and reduces wastage by maximising use of the carcase.

To help promote the burger range, EBLEX has teamed up with Michelin-starred chef Nigel Haworth who features in an online video in which he describes the profit opportunities to be had by selling cut-specific burgers. He also demonstrates how to cook a gourmet burger made from 21-day-aged minced beef (50% rump, 25% shoulder and neck).

The video can be viewed online.

EBLEX has also launched ‘It’s all About Flavour’, a publication that takes a detailed look at the premium burger market and includes some tasty recipe ideas.

SausesGetting saucy

“Barbecues are big for 2015 – whatever you do, make sure you sauce up your barbecue offerings,” advises Kevan Vetter, Executive Chef, McCormick. “With readymade sauces and seasonings you can instantly and simply add interest to the staples and promote them as add-ons to generate more profit.”

Eimear Owens, Country Sales Manager - UK & Ireland, Santa Maria Foodservice agrees: “By simply adding a BBQ sauce, spice or rub to basic menu staples like burgers, you can create cost-effective, mouth-watering food that taps into the popularity for barbecue cuisine.”

Emma Macdonald, founder of The Bay Tree Food Company urges operators to be mindful of the growing popularity of world foods and innovative tastes: “Burgers have tremendous scope for variation. It is important for caterers to take advantage of the continuing rise in demand for world foods and more unusual flavours. These trends can easily be incorporated into your burger offering in terms of the accompanying marinades, sauces and cheeses. Chilli and smokey flavours are big news – this can also be translated across your condiment offering as well.”

According to a new survey from AAK Foodservice and its Lion sauces range, over half of Brits (55%) would be interested in seeing more exotic barbecue options when eating out. This, of course, also applies to burger offerings.

The survey also revealed the following:

 Arrow Almost half of Brits (48%) are likely to consider ordering a barbecue dish when eating out
 Arrow  This figure rises to 69% of 18-24 year olds, falling to 32% in the 65+ age group
 Arrow 73% of respondents agreed that barbecue sauces enhance meat, 34% agreed they enhance vegetables, while 29% agreed they enhance fish 
 Arrow  Sticky barbecue sauce was the most appealing in terms of barbecue-based sauce options
 Arrow  When quizzed further, respondents picked both barbecue sauce and tomato ketchup as their top two choices when barbecuing.
 Arrow  Presentation was important when eating out with 52% preferring small sauce dishes over sachets.

PulledPorkPulled Pork Burger

Pulled pork burgers have become increasingly popular in the out-of-home market, along with pulled pork dishes in general. Sales have boomed in recent years, with the number of dishes on UK menus rising from just one in 2010 to 197 by the summer of 2014.

BPEX butchery and product development manager, Keith Fisher, says: “Taken from a slow cooked shoulder joint (these are good value and generally in plentiful supply), pulled pork is a deliciously tender and moist meat. When served with premium quality bread – for example artisan rolls or brioche buns – with good-quality sauces and condiments, chefs will be able to charge a premium for this popular American-style burger offering. Or perhaps mix and match with a range of sauces to produce slider boards – a sharing plate that has become a firm favourite on casual dining menus.”

For more information and recipes, visit lovepork and porkforcaterers.

French Dip Burger arrives in the UK

The best-selling burger on the TGI Friday’s menu is the comparative newcomer, the French Dip Burger.

“I first got inspired to put the French Dip on the Friday’s menu when I tasted it in Los Angeles,” expains Terry McDowell, TGI’s Development Chef. “Once I’d tried it, I knew I had to bring it back to Friday’s in the UK and let the British public indulge in this new flavour I had found. I took the essence of the idea back from LA, and gave it a TGI Friday’s twist.”

Burger with gravy

Make your own french dip burger

Recipe courtesy of Tery McDowell, TGI Friday’s


  • Garlic mayo - crush up some sea salt and fresh garlic then add it to mayonnaise
  • Beef stock
  • Meat - BBQ burgers are great at this time of year, alternatively roast beef
  • Caramelised onions - thinly slice a white onion and fry in a little olive oil over a low heat, sauté the onions until cooked through; this may take as long as 20 minutes. The low and slow approach enables the onions to release their natural sugars and turns the onions into a sweet, sticky and nutty onion jam.


  •  Simply load your chosen bun, Terry prefers brioche for the sweetness, but if you can’t get brioche then whatever you fancy
  • Put a layer of garlic mayo, sliced red onion and a slice of tomato, the meat, some Swiss cheese and top with caramelised onion. Put the lid on and serve with a side of your beef stock.

Who let the dogs out

While enthusiasm for burgers means it has held onto the number one spot with diners, its market share is being rivalled by the rise of the posh hot dog. BPEX butchery and product development manager, Keith Fisher, comments: “While there is no denying that burgers remain the nation’s favourite dish, research shows menu listings are falling compared to other informal dining options.

“Indeed, the humble hot dog has been turned into a ‘gourmet-dog’ in a relatively short space of time thanks to its premiumisation – not just in terms of the meat quality, but the range of innovative toppings and carriers too. It is this thinking that can be transferred to the burger market.”

Looking ahead

Foodservice data expert, Horizons, predicts that the burger’s popularity is no flash in the pan. “We firmly believe the popularity of the burger with British consumers is here to stay, particularly as operators have been innovative with their presentation and accompaniments,” says Nicola Knight, Horizons’ analyst. “Beef burgers are still the top main–course dish and have seen a marked increase of 29% since Summer 2014; this may be related to personalisation and innovation of the burger. Having said that, chicken burgers and vegetable burgers have both seen an increase of 28% and 49% respectively.”

Horizons has also identified the imminent arrival of two US chains to these shores:

  • In June, Fatburger will open in London with plans to open 20 Fatburgers across the country
  • Smashburger, the ‘better burger’ chain that operates more than 300 corporate and franchise sites in 32 US states will launch two sites (as yet unidentified) in the UK by the end of the year
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