Chef Uses Science to Create the Perfect Hamburger
If you think your order of a double-cheddar bacon burger is the best thing out there, well, you are wrong and there is science to prove it.
The perfect burger is constructed thusly: a warmed sesame seed bun sprayed with sesame seed oil; chipotle sauce; an iced lettuce leaf; a sliced gherkin; a thick slice of vine-ripened tomato; two slices of dried Serrano ham and deep-fried onion slices; two slices of melted Camembert; a Wagyu beef patty seasoned with barbecue sauce, salt, pepper and finely chopped onion; an even layer of ketchup; and a bottom bun with two splashes of soy sauce. This is according to Charles Michel, the chef-in-residence and researcher on flavor perception at Oxford University’s Research Laboratory. Oxford, people! This isn’t some Dartmouth party school burger!
Michel, who has previously done important work on things like how the weight of your cutlery affects how much you enjoy your meal, was commissioned by supermarket brand Asda to use science to create the perfect burger. He believes that, when it comes to a great burger, a lot more needs to be considered than taste. In fact, taste is low on his list. Smell is actually his most important component, making up 30 percent of the experience, followed by touch at 25 percent. Sound, appearance and, finally, taste all make up just 15 percent of our burger enjoyment.
For those reasons, Michel offers up more advice on creating perfection than just his recipe above. Burgers should be eaten with the hands, he suggests. And instead of on a plate, always serve a burger in a wrapping, which maintains structure and moisture.
And as ridiculously detailed as his recipe may seem, Michel also provides specific reasoning for every step in the process. Chipotle sauce helps trigger endorphins in our brain. Tomato adds umami, juiciness and aroma. Keep that ketchup on the bottom so it’s closer to the tongue.
The burger researcher also stresses the importance of sound. “A growing body of research is also showing just how much we ‘eat with our ears’ and sound is often the forgotten flavor sense,” he told the Daily Mail. “Imagine how disappointing a burger would be without hearing the crunch of the crispy bacon, lettuce or gherkin. Focusing on the sizzle of the meat, the sound made by food in your mouth as well as listening to your favorite song whilst eating a burger can really make it more enjoyable.”
That’s right: If you don’t have any Serrano ham lying around, you can just pop on your favorite tune to help rectify the situation.