This article originally appeared in Dutch on MUNCHIES Netherlands.
Diego Buik is the head chef at the restaurant South of Houston in the Hague. He's also the unofficial Hamburger King of the Netherlands. In 2015, he won an award for creating the best burger in the town of Rotterdam, and he has a burger tattoo on his forearm. According to his coworkers, his veins aren't filled with blood—they're filled with ketchup.
At his previous workplace, Buik sold 15,000 burgers in six months. To celebrate, he organized an event featuring 100 limited edition burgers and swore he would never make the same burger again. For International Hamburger Day, Buik once again wanted to pull off something special, but he wasn't interested in another big hamburger dinner. He was interested in earning a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. So, in the city of Zaandam, he created the world's most expensive burger. It comes with a €2,000 price tag, which is roughly the cost of 1,124 McDonald's hamburgers (depending on which city you're in). Just saying.
I visited Buik as he prepared this undertaking, to see whether this was just a gimmick or whether the ridiculously expensive ingredients actually do make a better burger.
When I arrived at the restaurant, I caught Buik painting a brioche bun with liquid gold. On the table next to him, I saw a truffle the size of my fist.
MUNCHIES: Can you tell me about the ingredients of your 2,000 euro burger?
Diego Buik: It's a saffron brioche bun wrapped in a thin layer of gold. The bun itself is worth 120 euros, the sauce is 90 euros per bottle, the French lettuce is 15 euros a head, and that's the most expensive I could find. It features Japanese tomato I bought for 80 euros a kilogram, and the meat mixture—a blend of Japanese dry-aged Waygu and Black Angus—is priced at 645 euros a kilogram. The patty itself weighs 200 grams. The foie gras costs 90 euros a kilogram, the lobster from the River Oosterschelde—which is injected with Hermit gin, which is made with water from that same river—costs 40 euros a kilogram, and the Iberian ham is priced at 160 euros a kilogram.
It'll also be topped with truffle that sells for 695 euros per kilogram, and exactly 30 grams of caviar. All of those ingredients combined cost almost 1,000 euros, and that's before I do anything with them. So the sale price for this burger would ultimately be more than 2,000 euros.
Impressive! What kind of sauce will you put on it?
I asked [condiment company] Saus Guru to create something special and exclusive. I don't know the exact recipe, but it features a reduction of 35 lobsters, Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, vanilla from Madagascar, saffron, and Japanese soy sauce.
How long did it take you to come up with the recipe?
It happened pretty quickly. My boyfriend thinks I should keep this to myself—according to him, I need to make up some big story around my recipes, but I usually create my recipes on quiet Sunday mornings while I'm hanging out on the couch.
The Guinness Book of World Records required a burger that costs at least 2,000 euros. With that in mind, I started searching for ingredients. Lobster from the Oosterschelde River, for instance, is very exclusive because it can't be found outside the Netherlands. And the Wagyu is special because it's aged [over a long period of time].
Does the thin layer of gold add any flavor to the burger?
No, it doesn't taste like anything. It's only there for the visual effect and to reach the ridiculously high price point.
Is a more expensive burger automatically a more delicious burger?
Not if you just stack all of the world's most expensive ingredients on top of each other. You need to make sure the burger is balanced by combining the right ingredients. In this case, that will happen. All of the ingredients go very well together.
Lobster and beef are known to most as surf & turf; the salty taste of the Iberian ham complements the salty caviar; the caviar goes with the lobster; the Iberian ham's nutty flavor fits really well with the truffle; lastly, because the lobster has been injected with gin, there's an added sense of freshness to it.
Will this monster burger pop up on a menu, or are you only making it once?
I'm open to [making it again]. If someone wants to eat it, I'm happy to make it. But you have to tell me in advance, because it takes a lot of prep time.
Is this the tastiest burger you've ever had?
No, even though it's delicious. Byron in London served me the best burger I've ever had: A beef burger on a brioche bun with dried bacon, Byron sauce, tomato, red onion, and aged cheddar. It cost me about 14 pounds.
Would you pay two grand for a burger?
No, never. To be honest, the simpler the burger, the better—as long as the bun is good, the meat is of good quality, and the sauce is tasty. I'm only [creating this one] because it would be fun to hold a record like this one. And I did it!
The actual burger Buik made is huge, both in size and price, so unfortunately I couldn't eat that one. Luckily, he made a test version: a miniature golden hamburger that wasn't exactly the same, but still featured a lot of ingredients I'd normally never be able to afford.
I closed my eyes while I bit into the brioche bun, which was sprinkled with gold dust. Soft foie gras and sweet lobster paired perfectly with the salty Iberian ham and caviar. The meat was next level, and for 645 euros per kilogram, it better be. As soon as I swallowed the last bite, I wished I'd chewed more slowly. It's insane to consider the amount of money you can eat in only ten minutes. When I think about it like that, I'd rather have those 1,124 McDonald's hamburgers. They'd last me a lot longer.