GBK Chef of the Year Competition

GBK Chef of the Year Competition 2016 – Regional Heat

Today was a good day. That is an understatement! Today I was one of three judges for a regional heat (Hertfordshire and Midlands) in the GBK Chef of the Year Competition. Today was an excellent day!

The annual competition gives the hard-working Chefs at GBK, the opportunity to develop and present a burger, with the winner of the regional heat going onto the national finals.

The winner of the GBK Chef Competition then has the honour of seeing their burger added to the menu and on-sale at all 70+ GBK restaurants in the UK. No pressure then…

Last years’ winner was Laura Stevenson with her entry, The Caerphilly Dragon (I met Laura today and she will be one of the judges at the National final later this year).

Unfortunately, I didn’t get the opportunity to sample that burger, but you can guarantee I’ll be looking out for the 2016 winner hitting the High Streets.

Speaking of High Streets, this regional heat was held at the brand new GBK Worcester restaurant which is to open on Monday 30th May.

It was certainly great to get an exclusive preview of the premises and to meet some of the team. People living in and around the Worcester area are in for a treat, and the unveiling of the new frontage seemed to have created quite a buzz from passers-by.

GBK Worcester
GBK Worcester…

Anyway, back to the competition. And more importantly the burgers!

I’m not going to go into great detail on each but I will list the build specifications at the bottom of this post.

What I will say, is that the standard was incredibly high and every Chef should be extremely proud of their burgers. I didn’t sample one I didn’t enjoy and that even includes the builds with egg and fresh tomato on (ingredients I would normally avoid)!

The format was simple. My fellow judges were Jo Blake (Area Manager) and Dan Cooper (Area Trainer). Not only are Jo and Dan very passionate about the GBK brand they (obviously) have vast knowledge and experience.

More importantly they were extremely friendly and infectiously fun to be around. So thank you both for having me on-board as a judge. And also a massive thank you to Chris Watts (Manager at GBK Oxford) for inviting me as a “mystery judge”.

Below we have the list of burgers which were to be judged on the following criteria; execution, appearance and taste – each scoring out of 10 with an overall score out of 30.

The Chefs were required to work to tight deadlines and deliver two burgers – one to be presented and one to be divided into four sections for the judges to taste. This meant I would be eating approx. 2.5 burgers. It’s a tough, dirty job but someone has to do it…

In addition to this, Chefs had to present additional information regarding ingredients/recipes (if applicable) and build costs. So aesthetics and taste aside, operational factors obviously play a big role in development.

Burger NameRestaurant Location
GladiatorResorts World
The 416Aylesbury
The MarleyOxford
Simply VBrindley Place
Miami ViceMilton Keynes
The HornetWatford
Long John SilverBirmingham
3 Little PiggiesWorcester
BurgasaurousBrent Cross

I had received the list above a few days prior to attending the regional heat and there certainly were a few names that intrigued me. The scoring was incredibly close and to give you an indication of how close it was, my top scoring and least scoring burgers were only separated by six whole points. That’s how good the standard was.

In the end, the judges scoring and consultation crowned The Hornet in first place with The 416 a very close second and Burgasaurous coming hot on its heels in third.

GBK Chef Competition
The Hornet…

Personally, I loved the concept of The Hornet with additional mock-up promotional material – the tagline being “Can you handle the sting?” with a yellow hornet logo and chilli pepper incorporated into the design.

The burger itself was accompanied by a small pot with chopped grilled rocket pepper, allowing the diner to add additional heat if required.

I managed to speak to the regional winner, Phil Adams, who will now go onto the national final, about his idea when developing The Hornet:

“The inspiration for the burger was to put GBK Watford on the minds of everyone when they are hungry. So I decided to think of something that everyone knew about in Watford and that is football or ‘The Hornet’ we even have a hornet statue opposite our GBK.

The sting idea came after – I had completed the burger, but wasn’t 100% satisfied with it. I wanted to offer people with varying spice tolerance levels the chance to customise the heat to their preference.

So in came the little grilled rocket pepper with a long tail looking like a ‘sting’. I was impressed with the difference it made to the overall taste, it certainly doesn’t hold back! It’s full of flavour but also appeals to thrill seekers looking for a spicy burger that no-one else dares to put on their menu – except GBK.”

From my point of view, I’ve certainly not encountered a burger on the High Street with that degree of spice so it will be interesting to see if it is successful at the national final. Fingers crossed for you Phil!

I had the privilege of announcing the winner and congratulated everybody on their efforts today.

Like I mentioned earlier, the standard was incredibly high and each of the Chefs should be proud of their work.

As a consumer it’s great to know that GBK have such a band of creative and passionate Chefs working for them. And that’s my honest view, I’m not being paid by GBK to say this and this is not a sponsored post or anything like that.

I was also impressed by the teamwork and comradery on display today. A real sense of team, helping each other out and competitive, but friendly rivalry – it was refreshing.

And I referred to all of them in my speech as the “GBK family” which was much more fitting than calling them a team. And I’m glad to have the opportunity to immortalise these creations on this website.

So once again, I’d like to say a big thank you to all involved for a great day and I look forward to seeing the 2016 Chef Competition winner on the GBK menu.

Burger Lad®

The ten burgers sampled today:

Conchita – Bun, curry jam mayo, sweet potato fries, egg, bacon, crumbed halloumi, mixed leaf salad.

Gladiator – Bun, sundried tomato mayo, portabello mushroom, beef, bread-crumbed mozzarella, rocket, Emperor sauce.

The 416 – Bun, lime chipotle mayo, Hot n Fresh slaw, panko fried chicken, unmelted cheddar.

The Marley – Bun, Reggae sauce, spring onion, rocket, mango salsa, jerk chicken, pepperoni, red pesto mayo.

Simply V – Bun, rocket, coolcumber sauce, Mexicana cheese, chorizo, beef, gherkins, smoked chilli mayo.

Miami Vice – Bun, Ocean Drive sauce, truffle broccoli sauce, beef, sliced olives, Red Leicester cheese.

The Hornet – Bun, grilled rocket pepper, yellow pepper relish, pickled onion, rocket, grilled Mirabella pepper, smoked Applewood cheese, chicken breast, stinger mayo.

Long John Silver – Bun, jerk mayo, rocket, Red Leicester cheese, Cajun seasoned beef patty, mango & red cabbage salsa.

3 Little Piggies – Bun, lettuce, tomato, black pudding & sausage patty, crispy bacon, caremelised apple, smoked Applewood cheese.

Burgasaurous – Bun, herbivore kick, pickled onion, cherex sauce, beef, pineapple, smoked chilli mayo.