Sydney Food Trucks: BURGER THEORY

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Burger Theory have already proven they know exactly what they're doing with the success of their food truck that's been roaming the streets of Adelaide. We have a chat to Dan Mendelson, half of the duo behind Burger Theory (along with Rob Dean) about branching into the upcoming Sydney food truck scene.

Credit: Timothy Tuppence
Credit: Timothy Tuppence

What’s the idea behind your truck?

We try to keep it simple, but do it well. This primarily influences our (tedious!) habit of freshly grinding the best beef South Australia has to offer just hours before we sear them on a ridiculously hot cast iron hotplate: not a new idea, but one worth the effort. However, it also extends to smaller details: we care about bun-to-meat ratios, salt particle size and time of application, freshly cracked pepper, and so on. Basically, we think about burgers a lot!

Do you have a star dish on your menu?

We make burgers. Our goal from the outset was not to have a large menu that can only be approached with the query, "what's good here?" Everything is the star (hopefully). There isn't a wide choice, but we put the same care and effort into everything. But since that is a cop-out, the star really is the beef (and, perhaps, our chocolate chip cookie... depends who you ask).

Credit: Whitewall Photography
Credit: Whitewall Photography

What do you need to think about when putting together a food truck menu?

Space is extremely limited on a truck. Our initial menus were very ambitious, with demi-glace & fried shallot burgers and 14-hour mesquite smoked Berkshire pork buns. While there is a chance that these items will make an appearance, we quickly learned that simple is better for a truck menu.

Where will your produce come from?

Our meat comes from Richard Gunner of Feast Fine Foods. The beef is raised in the Coorong region. Our buns come from Breadtop. As far as other condiments/toppings go, we have yet to source them in NSW, but in SA we cruise the Central Market for the best on offer.

What’s the hardest thing about setting up a food truck?

Every single service involves constructing and deconstructing an entire kitchen worth of utensils, ingredients, and random assorted items. Early on, we were almost always forgetting a key item. Also, people forget that trucks rely upon having a production kitchen somewhere, so co-ordinating both together can be difficult.

Credit: Timothy Tuppence
Credit: Timothy Tuppence

How are we going to find you?

We are heavy users of Twitter (@burgertheory/@burgertheorysyd) and Facebook. It really is the only way to get the word out! (And a great distraction when other more important, but more mundane tasks need to be accomplished.)

Do you think Sydney is ready for food trucks?

We all will have to wait and see, won't we? Sydney has a thriving food community and wonderful weather in comparison to other food truck loving cities (eg Portland, New York, etc.), and after tasting the incredible food of the others during the application process, it looks to be a good bet.

When it comes to food, what are you and your team most passionate about?

We buy the best meat we can from a purveyor we believe in. We try to treat it as best we can, properly cooking and seasoning it. Salty well-browned crust, juicy medium/medium/rare patty, with freshly cracked pepper in a soft toasted bun - can't get much better than that.

Credit: Whitewall Photography
Credit: Whitewall Photography

Who or what inspires you?

It is becoming a bit cliché at the moment, but obviously David Chang is a big influence, as are some of the more traditional heavy hitters of the American fine-dining scene like Thomas Keller, Charlie Trotter and Danny Meyer. We read Serious Eats (and especially Kenji Alt-Lopez at A Hamburger Today) regularly. But more broadly, we are inspired by anyone who cares and thinks about the food they cook, especially when it is served with a genuine smile. Lastly, Shake Shack is a thing of beauty.

What’s your top tip for cooking on the go?

Buy good produce - you won't have to do much more. Develop good relationships with local butchers and fishmongers - they will be your best friend in making good food fast.

Where did you learn your culinary skills?

We eat (and read) a lot!

If you had just three ingredients to cook with, what would they be?

Salt, pepper and a Berkshire pig.

What food trends are you most excited about this year?

It may sound strange coming from a food truck, but we don't like the idea of "trends". Value for money will always be in season.

Check out the Burger Theory food truck on Facebook and Twitter to stay updated - we can't wait for them to arrive!

Follow us on Twitter: @y7lifestyle

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