Bespoke burger duo ready for battle of a street food contest
A talented culinary duo from Birmingham, who have made a name for themselves with their bespoke burgers, are set to do battle in a contest to find the best street food in Britain.
Scott O’Byrne and Tom Maher run fast-growing burger business The Original Patty Men and after finishing runners-up in the Midlands heat of the British Street Food Awards, are heading to Leeds this month to test their talents against best traders in the UK and Europe to compete in the grand final.
Scott and Tom’s burger-making venture happened by accident rather than by design.
Both are menswear designers first and foremost, but an episode of the cult TV show Man Versus Food saw them branch out in a different direction.
“We saw a Krispy Kreme burger on Man Versus Food,” said Tom. “That’s a burger inside a sliced Krispy Kreme donut. It was called the Luther burger and was invented, some think, by Luther Vandross.
“We had to try it out and bought some supermarket beef. The beef wasn’t great, but the donut element worked so well that we set about improving it. We started buying quality beef. Started working on a product.”
Scott added: “Neither of us have any experience as chefs but our burgers started to get better and better. We weren’t just making Krispy Kreme burgers, we were trying all sorts.
“Then a friend asked us to cater their birthday bash at the Prince Of Wales, in Moseley. We hired the equipment, bought some burger wrap to add a touch of theatre and, when we weren’t cutting all the power off to the entire pub because we had no idea what we were doing, started serving.
“People loved our food. We got to thinking, hang on, this might be more than just a laugh. It could be a business.”
They then decided to take the plunge and bought their own equipment. They went about sourcing the finest beef they could find, settling on Longhorn beef bought direct from a rare breed local farm that they keep a closely guarded secret.
A process of experimentation saw them settle on what they thought was the perfect patty – a blend of four cuts of beef, dry aged for five weeks.
Their mix is a 70:30 meat to fat ratio, which they believe is ideal for flavour and juiciness.
Soon after they were given their first shot at catering at popular street food event – the Digbeth Dining Club – and their food proved a hit.
“Scott said: “We put the Krispy Kreme donut burger on the menu. With our perfect patties it lifted the burger to heavenly levels. “Everyone should try it. It’s spectacular.”
Topped with maple bacon, American cheese and their mustard and ketchup, Tom and Scott thought they had cracked it.
But donut giant Krispy Kreme had something to say about it.
“As word spread we were invited to do a pop-up restaurant night at Cherry Reds,” said Tom.
“The Krispy Kreme company got wind of it and gave us a call. They were really polite about it but the message was clear: Stop using their name.
“Needless to say, we did as told. We still use their donuts and have renamed it ‘Big Vern’s Krispy Ring’ after Vernon Rudolph, the founder of Krispy Kreme. It’s been on the menu ever since.”
Other burgers dreamt up by the creative cooks include the Hans Gruber burger, a beef patty with German black pudding, sauerkraut, smoked cheese, German mustard and ketchup.
A recent hip-hop night saw them devise two speciality burgers, one representing Biggie Smalls (with homemade Amaretto peanut butter) and another representing Tupac (with homemade Dr Pepper BBQ sauce).
Their “Big Rab”, conceived for Burns Night, saw a haggis and beef blended patty sit beneath a rocket salad, bloody Mary ketchup, crispy swede and carrot chips, all topped with whisky and onion cream sauce.
Scott and Tom are also very particular about the buns they use.
“The bun is almost as important as the meat,” said Tom. “One of the hardest things was nailing the bun. We experimented with potato rolls, brioche, demi-brioche, all sorts. Eventually we worked with our baker to get them just right, and now she does our buns, bespoke.”
* Tom and Scott’s burgers can be sampled at the street food market Digbeth Dining Club, which takes place Every Friday from 5.30pm at Spotlight in Lower Trinity Street. The event was the winner of Best Street Food Event in the 2013 British Street Food Awards.
Scott O’Byrne, Rob Williams and Tom Maher
Scott & Tom’s burgers