The Burger Craze – an Asset for Parisian Gastronomy?

How to reconcile the words “trend”, “Paris”, “culinary arts” and “hamburger”? How to make them coexist in a common atmosphere, completing each other?

France is often described as one of the world’s greatest countries – if not the greatest – when it comes to gourmet cuisine. Can we, therefore, deduce that Paris is the capital of gastronomy? Close enough, since in reality this honorific title belongs to Lyon, a few hundred kilometers further south. However, this does not mean that Paris lags far behind.

The burger has now perfectly blended into the Parisian gastronomic scene: as much as 75% of Parisian restaurants offer at least one burger option in their menu, and a profusion of burger joints is now springing up in the City. A website called Paris Burger has tried and tasted more than two hundred hamburgers in Paris proper. However, not everyone is enthusiastic with burgers being on the crest of the wave, some indeed fear overdose.

Do you want to know more? We will tell you all about burger in Paris

Burger market

In France, the most iconic American sandwich is a powerhouse of the fast food industry and represents half of all the sandwich sales.

In Paris, hamburgers seem to move against the junk food stream. In recent years, we have been witnessing the emergence of new players who constantly work on developing the flavors of the hamburger: the wedding of high quality free range meat, freshly baked buns, matured cheese and fresh-cut fries have given birth to the “gourmet burger”, heir of both the American fast food and the French culinary excellence.

In France, the burger market is worth 7.5 billion euros per year

More and more restaurateurs are pledging allegiance to this emblematic American food, launching eateries serving exclusively burgers. Buoyed by the success of this new culinary wave, some have started opening numerous restaurants or even creating franchises. Big Fernand, Blend, or PNY – an evocative acronym for Paris-New York – are some examples of these new players on the Parisian dining landscape.

Le Return of the cowboy du Restaurant Paris New York, 50 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, Paris

Le Return of the Cowboy from Paris New York, 50 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, Paris

These hamburgers are of course pricier than those sold in less shiny establishments such as McDonald’s, but are still cheaper than a steak & fries in a Parisian brasserie. On average, a hamburger and fries would cost around 13.80 euros (around USD 15.70). In France, the total sales turnover for the burger market was valued at as much as 7.5 billion euros (approximately USD 8.5 billion) in 2013.

On average, a standard burger/fries costs around 13.80 euros

While most Parisians applaud this evolution in the burger consumption trends, there is some reluctance to accept the burger way on the part of purists, otherwise known as “culinary dictators”. These reactionary foodies are legion in France, and especially in Paris.

Is the gourmet burger a renaissance in the gastronomic scene? Is it merely a vulgar sham? In this perennial debate, both sides have arguments to defend their points of view.

In Paris, the world’s favorite tourist destination, travelers’ views are divided. If some are thrilled to satiate their culinary wanderlust by exploring a cuisine that has been declared World Intangible Heritage by UNESCO; others, on the other hand, would rather avoid escargots and have a burger instead – a reassuring comfort-food in the middle of a plethora of unknown foods with bizarre names.

Beware of traps

As we all know, not all burgers are created equal. Not even gourmet burgers. The burger market is indeed still expanding. Numerous burger joints are opening to cater to a high demand from consumers, and are, therefore, justified.

Hamburgers are the most cost-effective food in the catering industry

Unfortunately, many are merely motivated by profit. This is the driving force behind most business activities, one might say, so why would hamburgers be the exception to the rule?

Some investors are graduates from top business schools but lack knowledge when it comes to hamburgers. They simply apply a mathematic equation, a common y = ax + b type formula (your teachers must have told you, mathematics is important).

 

 

In other words, hamburgers are the most cost-effective type of food in the catering sector. Their cost is indeed minimal: they consist of bread, ground meat (cheapest cuts of beef), cheddar and potatoes. However, being on the crest of their popularity, burgers can be sold at high prices, providing a comfortable margin of benefit to restaurateurs. Combine that with an interior design and wall paintings that aim to capture the flair of Brooklyn atmosphere but fail miserably, evoking a pale stereotypical version of it instead, and you will obtain the exact opposite of what is generally expected of a restaurant, and in particular of a hamburger, namely a glaring lack of character and personality.

What are the prospects for the burger

If one is to believe Darwin’s theory of natural selection, when the burger market matures, only the best will survive. In this particularly competitive environment, most restaurateurs will need to add value to their hamburgers in order to stand out.

Only the best will survive

Having understood this full well, some have been proactive. One of the most striking examples of the resulting gastronomic creativity is probably the “burger fusion” trend. While retaining the roots of the burger and using high quality ingredients, the burgers are nevertheless blended into another culinary world by incorporating complementary ingredients. We can mention, for instance, the Asian street food customized into burgers with the “Ramen Burger” (W for Wok) and “Bao Burger” (Siseng); the French regional flavors with the foie gras burger (Atelier SaintGeorges), the creative recipe of the “Black Tentacles”, a calamari burger served in Bar à Burger; or the unbeatable quality-price ratio of B&M burgers.

Le Bao Burger 5 épices du restaurant Siseng, 82 Quai de Jemmapes, Paris

The Bao Burger 5 épices from Siseng, 82 Quai de Jemmapes, Paris

If the burger trend allows limited innovation compared to some other segments of the catering business, such as molecular gastronomy or bistronomy (a combination of the words bistro and gastronomy), it nevertheless brings its fair share of improvements. Indeed, the hamburger wave is far from lagging behind when it comes to innovation as the Parisian culinary scene teems with establishments that are more of a carbon copy of the standards of Le Fooding standards – a restaurant guide for trendy Parisians in search for the latest culinary must-do’s.

Whether in economy, gastronomy, in the burger sector or anywhere else, the competitive advantage is key for business survival. Restaurateurs and investors can show their gratitude to the American culture, hamburgers are now a must in Paris culinary landscape.

Find out all the places listed in this article below on the map.

Siseng

82 Quai de Jemmapes, 75010 Paris

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Paris New York (PNY) Faubourg Saint-Denis

50 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, 75010 Paris

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Paris New York (PNY) Oberkampf

96 Rue Oberkampf, 75011 Paris

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Paris New York (PNY) Marais

1 Rue Perrée, 75003 Paris

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Big Fernand

Big Fernand, Rue du Faubourg Poissonnière, Paris, France

Big Fernand Montorgueil

Big Fernand, Rue Saint-Sauveur, Paris, France

Blend

Blend, Boulevard des Filles du Calvaire, Paris, France

Blend

Blend Hamburger ARGOUT, Rue d'Argout, Paris, France

Blend

Blend, Rue René Boulanger, Paris, France

W for Wok

W for Wok, Paris, France

L'Atelier Saint-Georges

L'Atelier Saint-Georges, Rue Henry Monnier, Paris, France

B&M

b&m Burger, Avenue Parmentier, Paris, France

B&M

b&m burger, Rue des Martyrs, Montmartre, Paris, France

Le Bar à Burger (BAB)

Le Bar à Burger (BAB), Avenue Claude Vellefaux, Paris, France

Photos courtesy of Paris Burger

Julien Giacalone As far as Julien can remember he always wanted to be a gangster. Unlike Henry Hill, he mostly became a writer. But a strong part of him is still anti-establishment. Which part? Only the good half.
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