The Karma Burger

We've teamed up with Fine Fare Kitchen in Christchurch to create a burger that not only tastes and looks good, but does good too. The Karma Cola Burger donates $1 to the Karma Cola Foundation, supporting cola farmers in Sierra Leone.

Fine Fare Kitchen use free-range meat and fresh local, ingredients cooked the old fashioned way – slowly – respecting the produce they use every day. With aligned values and both companies having a Simon in the mix, it was only natural we came together to create Christchurch’s first Karma Burger.

It will be available at Fine Fare Kitchen every Friday until the end of October. 

The Karma Cola Burger is made with Cressy Farm free-range pork marinated in Karma Cola, spices, Worcestershire sauce, sugar and vinegar and a dash of tomato sauce. Then its sous vide overnight (cooked in a plastic bag) drained and shredded. The braised meat is then stacked with a pork schnitzel, pickled red cabbage and apple salad, in a bun full of good intentions.

We asked Simon Levy, Executive Chef at Fine Fare Kitchen some questions:

What’s the secret to a great tasting burger?

There are a few secrets in my eyes. One, the bun should never be bigger than the actual burger itself. The worst thing I think you can ever have is when you get a burger and you have to open the actual bun up to see where the patty is. And the biggest thing about burgers is you’ve got to have the different elements; soft, sweet, crunchy, pickled, sourness - trying to get all of those flavours within a burger without it being overkill.

Is everything local at Fine Fare and how far does local stretch to?

Everything is local, food wise, at Fine Fare. We try and keep it within Canterbury, if not we’re not far at all. We do use one product that’s not from Canterbury and that’s our chickens. The free range organic chicken we use is called Bostock; one of the best I’ve tasted since being in New Zealand. They are reared on the Mr Apple Orchard in Hawkes Bay, which is beautiful; it just creates a lovely flavoured chicken.

Is the slow cooked fast food movement catching on in New Zealand?

I don’t think it’s something that needs to be catched, I think it’s something we are playing catch up with. We are just doing something that used to be done during the wars when you couldn’t really have nice food. You’d have scraps and you’d slow cook it into something really lovely for the next night. Being a younger child you would go around to Grandma’s house who has slaved away all day cooking and now we are all too busy to take that time.

If we want great food you have to take time over it, you can’t just go and buy it from the supermarkets and expect to have it in 20 minutes. Whether it be meat, fish or even vegetables, everything is about taking time and again showing respect to the produce you’re using. I think our guests are really pleased with everything they get from us.

You were brought up in the UK where there’s a huge interest in the provenance behind food. Have you found the same interest in New Zealand?

Yeah. I was brought up in London itself and its really hard because everyone talks about provenance but you haven’t got that massive stretch of land to just sit there and grow your own stuff at home like people do here. Even if you’re living outside of London it’s a lot harder to live and breathe that lifestyle. I think generally in New Zealand it is expected that you should understand and have good produce and know how it’s grown, where it’s from - that circle of life, the way food is from seed to mouth. I try to make it my lifestyle.

Do you see many people making conscious decisions about food?

Yeah, I think there’s enough interest in it from a personal level. When it comes to a professional level, the hardest thing is being realistic when you’ve got places that are doing a hundred people a night; you’re not able to get that standard of quality as easily as if you are doing 10 people a night - to get the right shaped parsnip or the perfect onion or the perfect sized fillet of beef. It’s not a sacrifice you have to make, it’s just making sure if you’ve got good produce, it doesn’t matter what shape or size it is, as long as you look after it and cook well with it; you’ll end up with something lovely.

What’s the most popular gourmet take home food on your menu at the moment?

It would be beef cheeks, that features once a week and it lasts anywhere from mid-day to two days but we generally sell out of the 30 or 40 portions we make. The chicken is up there as well just with it being such a great chicken, we don’t have to do much to it, we just pay it the respect it deserves and just cook it. Our menu is set. We have three staple dishes each day and then we have a specials board and we do certain things on certain days, like burgers on Fridays. We also do a pie and mash on Wednesday for hump day because in the last 18 months of being in New Zealand I think pies might as well become the New Zealand flag symbol instead of this big whole $25million referendum; just put a pie on a flag because New Zealanders love pies.

Why did you choose Karma Cola?

Because just like everything else we do, we are not in it for the big brands, multi corporates and industries. We want the things that make people go, “Ohhh,” when they try something new and interesting. Fine Fare Kitchen is all about food from the source, working with local artisans to provide the most delicious tasty dishes possible. This is why we are so excited to partner with the Karma Cola Foundation considering the work they do to support the farmers in Sierra Leone.
Whether it’s a leek from the farm or a cola nut from Sierra Leone then, just like Karma Cola, we pride ourselves on knowing where it comes from and how it’s looked after along the way. With a little bit of passion and love you get the best.
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