As the pandemic continues, chefs are looking for sure-fire menu items that will satisfy all types of diners. They’re finding that one thing that has never gone out of style is burgers. In fact, the USDA reports that Americans eat a total of 50 billion burgers a year.
“Burgers have always been popular,” Chef Lisa Birmingham says. “But over the last few years, there’s more demand for them than ever.”
With more demand, there’s more competition. Birmingham, and others, have some ideas about how brands can create separation in the crowded world of burgers. In the following slides, we will examine some factors chefs and operators should consider in creating a burger menu that stands out and connects with patrons.
Chef Lisa is the culinary director at a burger chain that has used National Beef patties for years. Their patties are fresh, never frozen, but still hold a 24-day shelf life thanks to special vacuum packaging.
But more than anything, Chef Birmingham likes to use National Beef patties because they are a consistent product that starts with the “highest quality cattle from the Midwest.” The processing facilities at National Beef use in-house trim, and state-of-the-art technology, to provide the consistent, high quality grind that delivers taste, texture, and performance that chefs, like Chef Birmingham, have come to count on. The time-tested forming process is a critical step in this journey as it ensures a patty will hold its shape while cooking.
“Burgers are a big part of our business, and National Beef is our trusted partner,” Birmingham says. “We rely on them to deliver consistent, safe, quality ground beef that our loyal customers love.”
Despite the fact that burger consumption is at an all-time high, chefs are being pulled in two opposite directions: some consumers are looking for “better-for-you” burgers, while others are looking for something decadent and indulgent.
A great beef supplier can help the operator determine which lean point(s) make the most sense for their operation, both from a business perspective, but also a “meeting-customer-needs” perspective. An 80 percent lean point is considered a nice sweet spot for some operators, but again, a brand like National Beef can work with chefs to make sure the number—and product—is suited for the restaurant’s needs and help them stand out from the competition.
Another way to differentiate a brand from the competition would be in highlighting the beef’s breed, like Angus, or Hereford—the breed type can help inform the distinctive flavor a diner might be expecting. Some operations might try to create a blend of primal grinds, like brisket, round, sirloin, or chuck—this can play well with appeal to diners who are looking for something a little more interesting, and are willing to pay a bit more.
For restaurants looking to serve burgers in areas with diners who are drawn toward health and wellness might choose to menu, and highlight, a natural option like National Beef’s Natural Angus Beef, raised without antibiotics or added hormones. For Birmingham, this is where she and her brand are making money.
“Food costs are always a concern, but consistent, high-quality burgers are what keep my customers coming back,” Birmingham says. “Customization, or building your own burger is huge, so it’s important for us to have a versatile burger that can fit different builds.”
National Beef’s packaging is a great way for kitchens to save on labor costs. The vacuum-sealed packaging is easy to store, and then open. Each patty is separated by paper for ease of use and a quick cook time helps chefs turn orders over while maintaining optimal plate performance.
National Beef’s commitment to the highest food safety standards, says Birmingham, is what makes them a great foodservice partner that she can trust.
“As a chef, aside from creating our signature burgers, one of our biggest concerns is food safety,” Lisa says. “When a National Beef product reaches my kitchen, I’m confident that it’s safe because of their closed loop system. There is no outside trim or third parties that are used to produce their patties.”
For information on how to make your burger program more profitable, check out the National Beef website.