Chef Luca Paris loves to eat. And he really loves a great burger.
Now, the longtime owner of Luca’s Mediterranean Cafe in Keene is putting his passion for patties to the test with his newest venture, “The Great Burger Quest,” a YouTube and Facebook video series of burger reviews at eateries throughout Keene and beyond.
The Great Burger Quest concept was developed from his “The Best Thing I Ate Today” Facebook page. The quest endeavors to showcase great burgers from 50 New Hampshire eateries and to share everything about the experience with viewers.
Paris said he has dreamed of bringing this concept to fruition for years, and he aims to use the series to promote the amazing restaurants in Keene and the entire state. He credits the man behind the camera, Aaron Kelly, family friend and owner of 360Monadnock, for making it happen.
“Aaron is really the driving force and the push behind it all,” Paris said. “He made sure we were going to do this.”
Kelly started his local video production company about four months ago. It provides creative digital marketing solutions to small businesses through the use of videography, drone video, 360 VR, and social media marketing.
“My mission at 360Monadnock is to help small businesses and give back to the community,” Kelly said of the series’ goal to promote local restaurants. “And we love burgers, so it’s a lot of fun.”
The Great Burger Quest has since sampled and reviewed burgers at Street Savory Food Truck, Machina Kitchen & ArtBar, Elm City Brewing Company, and Local Burger, all in Keene so far but soon to branch out across the state.
The show is sponsored by Spoetzl Brewery, home of Shiner Beers, who came on board quite organically when Paris asked the beer’s sales representative if it was OK for him to partake of a bock beer during the video shoots. It’s his beverage of choice when enjoying a burger.
So, what makes a great burger great? Paris says there are a few key burger-building basics to consider. First, it’s all about the burger-to-bun ratio. Too much one way or the other can ruin a great burger.
Secondly, he emphasized that the toppings need to be a blend of flavors and textures. A crispy, fresh element is vital, as is an acid, like a pickle, to open up the palate, Paris explains. A fresh tomato will cut into the fat of the burger and the cheese. Creative topping combinations bring an element of surprise that should never be underestimated.
Cover those culinary components and you’ve got a winning burger. The patty ingredients, he says, vary from burger to burger and restaurant to restaurant, but are always conceived of with love by the chef.
“You don’t put a burger on the menu without thought and care behind it,” Paris said. “Passion is always the answer.”
For example, the Elm City Brewing Company’s Robie Farm beef burger that was featured in a recent episode is topped with fresh veggies, a North Country Smokehouse bacon jam and a beer cheese made using Vermont cheddar and the brewery’s own beer.
And, he added, don’t ever discount the sides. They’re equally important.
Paris has developed a signature method of indulging in his burgers that he calls “drippin’ on the chip,” leaning over his plate as he eats, allowing the patty juices and condiments to drip onto his French fries. This creates bonus bites of deliciousness.
It’s a tough gig. Napkins are crucial. Short sleeves are highly recommended -- a shirt cuff can be easily ruined on this flavor tour. But above all else, bring your appetite and always be ready to film the sequence more than once.
Because burgers this great are worth a second take.
Do you have a favorite burger that should be featured on the show? The Great Burger Quest seeks the public’s recommendations for great burger submissions online at www.360monadnock.com/the-great-burger-quest-burger-submission.