Although these may sound like fast food, they have evolved into a world of possibilities that are today dishes worthy of true tasters.
As she does every morning, chef Argenis Botero visits Don Álvaro’s butcher shop, in Neira, Caldas, to choose the best cuts of beef between loin, shoulder, sirloin and haunch. Sometimes he chooses the leg, but this depends on how juicy and fresh it looks.
“The best is the one that has between 15% and 20% fat,” she says, eruditely, but not because with that raw material she is going to cook some Königsberg meatballs, a River Plate chorizo steak or a beef Wellington. No: his dream is to cook the best hamburger in the country.
As the soul and owner of the Amor a la Plancha restaurant, located on Calle Real in the municipality, she plans to participate in the contest Burger Master 2022, which will take place on April 25 and will offer diners the opportunity to try the best artisan hamburgers from different Colombian cities for seven days. ADVERTISING
For this reason, every day, after mincing the meat with a surgical steel grinder and adding two or three secret ingredients, he insists on getting gourmet quality for that plebeian dish that, at the end of the 19th century, was brought to the United States for the first time by some mischievous sailors from Hamburg.
In her own way, chef Botero confirms how the history of this food has evolved from its status as fast food, or even junk food, to a universe full of haute cuisine properties. When he bought his place, together with his daughter Ángel a, he observed that the previous owners only sold the classic ‘packaged’ hamburgers, processed, and in which, although their consumption was acceptable, something was wrong.
So he decided to join the trend that the dish is having today in the world and offer a homemade, artisanal version, which became a success for his restaurant. “Two years later, these are sold three times more than the classic ones and the clientele that asks for them even lines up no matter how long they take. That’s goodbye to fast food”, he points out. This conquest, in the battle of flavor, is enjoyed by both new establishments such as Amor a la Plancha, as well as the most experienced in the country.
“Our products are made by expert hamburgers right at the moment they are ordered, with the best quality ingredients from the Colombian countryside, with 100% beef, fresh vegetables, different types of cheeses and a lot of variety,” says María. del Pilar Rodríguez, Manager of Consumer Food Marketing at El Corral Gourmet, one of the most seasoned brands in this culinary segment. “More than fast food, the hamburger is a product that fills the heart,” says Camilo Peláez, operations manager of Home Burgers, a chain that has 30 locations between Bogotá, Medellín, Barranquilla and Cartagena.
Our clients like it because it makes them feel at home and our premises are a meeting point for families and friends. Also, I think that the hamburger manages to become an option for many occasions, and its market has developed a lot. Today you can find them from $12,000 to $40,000, which proves that it is not only considered fast food. Rather, it is in the segment or fast casual, which is an intermediate between that and tablecloth restaurants, and is characterized by high-quality products, pleasant environments and competitive prices”.
In this evolution, which benefits thousands of addicts, the hamburger began to set itself sustainable development goals. One example is the Hache de Hamburguesa restaurant, with locations in Bogotá and Cajicá, which is premised on caring for the environment and is considered ‘slow food’.
“The meat comes from our own farm, where we have cattle of good genetics, raised with the best pastures and salts.”, explains Jorge Diazgranados, his partner and head of operations, who adds that “we have the premise of innovation in each and every one of the products, reaching the point of proposing inputs and daring mixes that give our clients the possibility of experience unique sensations and flavors”.
And to stimulate gastronomic inclusion and equity, most of these establishments offer options based on vegetable protein. The hamburgers of the Chef Burger restaurant, for their part, are prepared with daily ground meat, without preservatives or preservatives, and are accompanied by artisanal sauces made by women in vulnerable situations and fresh vegetables grown by local communities. This chain is present in Medellín, Bogotá, Barranquilla and Cali, and in April 2020 it created the vegetarian version of the dish, the plant-based burger (WTFBurger), which has become a sensation in the place.
“Here, the burgers are a means to train young people for the future –says Maribel Gómez, director of the Brand–. We want them to find a decent job in our company, with all the labor guarantees, but also that they learn, through our Chef School, because they are the ones who will lead the country”.
This evolution of the hamburger is almost as important a milestone as the one set at the end of the 19th century by a young man named Charlie Nagreen when he offered, supposedly as a streetwalker, a steak that he placed in the middle of a round loaf cut in half, and that he had no other mission than to make it possible for the customer to eat it with their hands while enjoying the local fair in Seymour, Wisconsin.
This is how the first hamburger was born in the US and the result. Today there are hamburgers from $12,000 to more than $40,000, which proves that it is not only considered as ‘fast food’. It was so successful that today that city continues to annually celebrate the so-called Burger Fest in his honor. Here in Colombia, the event that pays tribute to him is Burger Master 2022, whose organizers have stated that this year’s challenge will be to sell two million artisanal or gourmet hamburgers, and that they already have 13 restaurants chosen to delight the palates of those who applaud this casual food proposal.
That is where Argenis Botero, on behalf of his restaurant Amor a la Plancha, from Neira, Caldas, will try to show what “the best artisan hamburger in the country” tastes like. “The good thing is that I have time,” he jokes, “after all, it’s not fast food anymore.