Let me just start off by saying: Brisbane you are bloody obsessed with burgers, I swear there’s an article at least once a week on my Facebook newsfeed about the newest burger joint opening in Brisbane. Don’t get me wrong I’m not complaining, I too am obsessed (who doesn’t love a good burger).
If, like me you are an avid foodie, or just an Instagram addict you probably will have noticed the rise of the “Gourmet Burger” in Australia but in particular, Brisbane. To my surprise there are many different names associated with these burgers, they have been described as ‘bougie burgers,’ ‘the American burger’ and the classic ‘indie burgers.’ (There’s an indie category for everything).
SO what exactly is this obsession?
Of course there’s no actual definition of what a gourmet burger entails but to me if its anything more than what is known as a ‘classic’ burger i.e. beef, cheese, lettuce, sauce, white bun, its gourmet. The word gourmet is usually associated with things that are expensive which is true in some cases surrounding burgers however McDonalds is now appealing to this gourmet market. They have literally created burgers under a ‘Gourmet Range,’ these burgers do not have a gourmet price tag but they do have that bougie feel. As in they are trying to be associated with a higher class than they are (sorry maccas you’re always going to be a fast-food chain).
McDonalds is on the right track however, as they are now appealing to premium tastes with an easily accessible product. McDonalds has always been successful and this “is largely due to its envelopment of globalisation, specifically through its adaptation of the local tastes and preferences.” By doing this McDonalds has always managed to stay relevant, however there has been a shift in demands among consumers. Customers now want to support independent places that are seen as trendy and hip as opposed to fast food chains.
So why is this the case?
Well the development of social media and in particular Instagram has changed not only the burger game but also the food game in general. Instagram is literally changing the way we eat, it is impossible to scroll through Instagram without seeing a photo tagged with #foodporn, #instafood, #foodgasm and #delicious (props to you if can). Consumers now seek out restaurants that have that Instagram aesthetic-either in the décor or in the food. (Not gonna lie I’m also guilty of this #doinitforthegram). Customers search for a place where the food will have the maximum amount of shareability so that the perfect shot can be taken. The Head of Marketing for a restaurant says that businesses are aware of this and are now beginning to “approach Instagram with the view of building a picture for the customer rather than an opportunity to drive quick sales.”
Foodie culture is also intrinsically linked with this instagram-able aspect of food. Food blogging is now extremely popular (yes I’m also jealous that people get paid to eat). These food blogs have the power to make or break any business with the click of a button. It has been found that these aesthetically pleasing pictures of food are so popular for a very simple reason – everyone can relate to a picture of food, whether they have previously eaten it or hope to consume it in the future-food has always connected people. It is also thought that these pictures are used to shape our online selves
“consumers attach a lot to these pictures. We use porridge to show we’re in control and burgers to show our rebellious side. Like everything on social media, it’s not a true reflection of who we are but a showreel of things we identify with.”
There is also a social gratification that comes with people liking and commenting on the post of your burger that you spent 20 mins trying to take the perfect picture of. Basically, everyone just wants to appear cool and hip. Even if you don’t relate to any of these reasoning’s-this one may change your mind, some research suggests “the act of taking a picture before eating it…can actually make food taste better.” So before you scoff down that burger, take a pic of it, upload it to social media and enjoy that delicious taste of the likes pouring in.
So how are these burger places standing out?
Somewhere along the line food became art and chefs became artists. So how are these ‘artists’ standing out? They are creating burgers that are extremely aesthetically pleasing. Consumers note that “knowing what a dish looks like is really important when deciding what to order.” Due to there being an endless amount of independent burger joints across Brisbane, having an aesthetically pleasing burger may not be enough, which leads some places to extremism. This can be seen in burgers that feature waffles or Krispy Kreme donuts as replacements of bread, with wagyu beef, nutella smoked bacon and guacamole in between. The most extreme burger that I could find (and please link me if I’m wrong) is the ‘off menu’ burger ‘STFU’ from Ze Pickle, which contains “three beef patties, triple maple bacon, mac and cheese fries and fried onion straws (among other things) all stuffed between three grilled cheese sandwiches.”
A food blogger notes that
“…those foot-tall freak-burger things stacked with fries, peanut butter, ice-cream, doughnuts, Doritos, onion rings, potato gems, mozzarella sticks and a pigsty-worth of bacon? I’m not even sure those things are burgers. Any more than two meat patties is gross. Those burgers are cheap thrills for Instagram likes…”
I have to agree with this in some cases- are burger joints just now making food more insta-grammable at the expense of it actually tasting good? I guess that question boils down to personal burger preferences (but I’m willing to try anything once!).
Personally, I am on the quest to find the best burger in Brisbane, no matter how long it takes or how many obstacles are in my way (i.e. being a poor Uni student and it being unhealthy to eat burgers everyday), I will find the perfect burger and I will (of course) post the perfect burger shot on Instagram.