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Friday, July 10, 2020

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Can a restaurant menu be so adaptable that it lives in the cloud? Of course. Can crowd-pleasing, perfectly-seasoned American classics be optimized and designed specifically for delivery? Sure. With this winning recipe, why not start with the ever-popular, immensely craveable burger and go on from there?

With all that in mind, Burger Boss was born.

“The idea for a ghost kitchen arose toward the end of last year and was rooted in what we saw as shifting trends in how people buy their food—and where they eat it—even before March.” Jon Katz explained: “We realized this model afforded us the ability to be extremely nimble in rolling out new concepts and virtual restaurants across cuisine categories, and focus on being really responsive to customer feedback and demand.”

A cloud or ghost kitchen is a professional kitchen that operates entirely on a catering and delivery model. That’s right; even before the COVID-19 crisis that shuttered traditional restaurants worldwide, restaurateur Katz, who has worked in ballpark concessions, restaurant and event/ballpark suite catering industries for almost two decades, teamed up with Chef Jonny Miller, a local caterer and private chef for the past 15 years, to create a more nimble concept to deliver great food to kosher-keepers. “I reached out to him early this year about coming on board as a partner and executive chef,” said Katz. Burger Boss is their first official anchoring venture, though they tested the marketplace earlier this year with a Pesach catering concept.

What did Pesach look like for the team? It was a “wildly popular Chol Hamoed delivery popup on DoorDash we called Bistro, which in turn drove our momentum into the Burger Boss launch. We had expected the Chol Hamoed popup to be successful, but were pleasantly surprised at how excited people were to have that option,” said Katz.

Fresh, Memorable Flavors, Designed for Home

Starting with a burger house was the first instinct for the team after Pesach. “The burger is an American classic that everyone loves, and we wanted it to be the foundation of all the next concepts to come. At the same time, we thought we could put our own spin on it with the use of our house brisket as a hallmark of our food—for example, with our house brisket blend used to make the patties, the Texas burger, which has a heap of brisket, and our brisket egg rolls.”

As the team was developing its menu, team members were mindful that with a cloud kitchen it wouldn’t be enough, necessarily, that the food was great. “All our dishes also had to be designed specifically with a high-quality delivery and takeout experience in mind, from start to finish.”

While burgers are the heart and soul of the menu, there’s a meaty twist. “With Jonny’s housemade brisket blend so central to our burgers, brisket itself is a key part of who we are and that gave us the path on how to expand the menu outward to other dishes that... still end up connecting back to our core flavor.

Flavors are rich and cater to multiple cravings, with either savory caramelized onion and bacon-esque flavor, Asian fusion like Hawaiian teriyaki or Mexican coastal-inspired flavors, like the lettuce wrap tacos. What has inspired this eclectic mix of core flavors? “Influences and inspiration for items on the menu come from everywhere,” said Miller. “A lot of it came from my personal experiences, seeing what my clients have loved over the years. We offered two kinds of brisket on our Pesach catering menu that sold out very quickly on both the first and second days. It might sound funny, but I’ve been passionate about brisket for years!”

“As a cooking philosophy, I like to follow the rule that ‘less is more,’” said Miller. “If you put your heart into perfecting the core of your menu, using great-quality fresh ingredients, that’s the essence of wonderful and memorable food. We definitely like to add some extra fun toppings to some of our dishes, like with our Boss Fries, which Jon (Katz) created, but at the end of the day it’s about the key part of each dish, and we don’t overdo it.”

“The sauces are so important, and connect to that idea of perfecting your core flavors,” added Miller. “A great sauce isn’t about being overwhelming, but about complementing. [It] can make or break your dishes...and highlight key notes and themes of an already amazing burger (or other dish). Take our Texas burger for example: the charred onion aioli works with the other ingredients to highlight and amplify that rugged and smoky theme of that burger. The avocado sauce for the farm burger does something similar.”

Of course, while Boss Fries, burgers and wings are certainly epically memorable, there are always going to be some members of every family who don’t want or can’t manage a huge calorie-fest when they have lunch or dinner. Since some customers don’t want calorific foods or avoid gluten, Katz said, “there was no reason we couldn’t delight those customers too by creatively riffing on our core flavors and ingredients to create exciting options for them too. Jonny has really been able to create a range of tastes that appeal to many different kinds of customers without compromising the essence of our flavor.” For those customers with lighter preferences, the amazing quinoa and veggie salad served with a bright balsamic vinaigrette, and the two types of lettuce-wrapped tacos—Mexican style shredded chicken with cilantro-lime slaw and ancho chili sauce, or slow-braised barbecue brisket with caramelized onions, shredded lettuce and garlic confit aioli—certainly fit the bill. Also, don’t miss the herb-marinated grilled chicken sandwich.

The most popular dishes so far indeed include the unforgettable Boss Fries, a generous order of fries literally loaded down with a mouthwatering and sinful combination of brisket and beef bacon, followed shortly by the Texas burger. The original “Boss Burger” is replete with the works, with the added bonus of banana chilis and “Boss Sauce.”

And lest anyone think Miller hasn’t perfected and put a fantastic fried chicken sandwich on the menu, never fear. “The triple-dipped fried chicken sandwich is something I’ve made for years, and we’ve actually already redeveloped the batter three times to make sure it keeps that great crispness and crunchiness from the journey between our kitchen and your home, so when you take that first bite it tastes just as great as if you were sitting in the dining room of a restaurant,” he said.

The food certainly seems to elicit poetry from customers. “The nicest feedback we’ve gotten was from a review on Facebook: ‘I’m still in a food coma! Burger on point, brisket egg roll holy cow! And those loaded fries; I don’t think I was able to move.’”

“We definitely like to hear our customers are happy and full,” said Katz.

While Burger Boss currently offers standard delivery with platforms such as DoorDash and Uber Eats, covering most of Bergen County, more community-focused deliveries have also been launched. “We’ve begun to offer a community delivery day to further out communities, where we offer a set time for an entire community to do contact-free curbside pickup. We set up shop with a friend in a given community who has generously lent us their driveway, customers line up in their cars, and as they approach the driveway we put the food in their trunk, and then they’re off to eat! We’ve done it for Westchester, Fair Lawn and Wesley Hills so far, and hope to continue especially throughout the warm weather seasons. So NYC, West Orange, Highland Park are definitely on the map for us,” said Katz.

Burger Boss, certified kosher by the Rabbinical Council of Bergen County, is just the first of several planned restaurant concepts for this creative, adaptable team. Learn more and check out their menu and catering options at http://njburgerboss.com, Facebook and Instagram.

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