Q&A – National Burger Awards winning chef Abdussamed
What does it take to create an award-winning burger, and one that also happens to be Halal?
Well, who better to answer this than head chef of London restaurant Cut + Grind (and formerly of Zelman Meats and Burger & Lobster), Abdussamed Aykac, who created a burger that went on to triumph at this year’s National Burger Awards.
After a tense 16 rounds of anonymous judging last month, it was the Muslim chef’s Juicy Classic that was declared the UK’s best on 21 February.
So we caught up with Abdussamed, or Sammy as he’s better known to friends and work colleagues, for a quick-fire Q&A on his award-winning creation that’s made of a chuck, brisket, rump and rib cap patty, and served with burger béarnaise, lettuce, British cheddar, pickles and red onion.
- How surprised were you to learn that the Juicy Classic was the UK’s best burger? Or were you confident that this burger was right up there with the best of them?
After lots of hard work developing the burger, I knew that if I cooked it correctly, it would be exceptional.
- Why do you think the judges voted for the Juicy Classic over the rest of the competition?
This is a burger that focuses on good quality beef over everything else. From there it’s just about balance of the accompaniments – not too much, not too little.
- How does it make you feel knowing that you, as a Muslim chef, have produced the best burger in 2018 which also happens to be Halal?
It’s great to know that quality comes above everything else.
- In your view, what are the core foundations for making a truly great burger?
Love for what you do, understanding flavour and balance, and making the best of your ingredients.
- How important are the condiments one adds to a patty and bun?
They are as important as the patty itself.
- How important is the patty in comparison to the condiments added to make an award-winning burger?
- What strategy do you employ when going through the process of designing a burger?
Start with clear flavours, and balance out from there.
- Apart from your own, what’s your all-time favourite restaurant burger and why?
Take me to Best Kebab in Stoke Newington all day long. A different but excellent eat.
- Are you currently working on any other potential award-winning burgers? If so, can you give us a taster, so to speak, of what they might be?
We’re always improving and trying to be the trendsetters. It makes us happy when others copy us. We’re working on lots of new dishes; best to come and try it for yourself.
- What are your top-3 Halal burger restaurants in the UK?
To my knowledge there is none as good as us in the UK. Why would I go elsewhere?