Even though I've worked in the food and beverage industry on many fronts (service, kitchen, management, etc), it never fails to amaze me when I find someone or a bunch of people who are passionate about food. And I'm not just talking about people that go, "I like to eat this," or "I like to go here to eat that."
No, no. I'm talking about people who deeply, truly believe in the craft and people who would obsess about the food. People who, regardless of day or night, rain or shine, would line up for up to an hour to get a taste of something that maybe they've heard about or read about. People who spend decades doing one thing but doing it right and people who shrug off the doubt of others and just went for it.
"It's burgers, of course I came!" was the statement of the day.
I met exactly these sort of people at I Eat Burgers. In fact, I met 18 000 of these people. You might accuse me of tooting our (Friedchillies') own horn, but honestly the event was fantastic and our whole team was gobsmacked at how passionate these people are about their burgers. I'm talking about those thousands of burger fanatics.
This patty grilling on a roaring fire holds the power to unite!
It was a hot sunny day. In fact the temperature peaked at 42 degrees celcius that Saturday. The lines that formed at some of the burger stalls spanned the entire width of the 'Burgembira Field'. Yet these burger fanatics lined up just to get a taste of either their favourite burgers or some burgers they've been wanting to try out for so long. "This burger is so cute!" said an ecstatic girl when she got her hands on a Mr. Krabs Jr. from Man Burger Kukus Lava. One burger seller came all the way from Malacca to the event. "I want to try Mustafa Jones," he said. "Heard so much about him."
You guys memang best!
Some of our team members reported 'debates' happening between the people lining up as to who made the best burger. "I love the I Love You Burger!" said a girl to her friend, who disagreed. "I think the best burger is always Om Burger!"
Because of the long lines, some of the fans were strategizing too. "I go line up at Abang Burn, you go line up at Big Hug. Then The two of you go check out Mike's and Adi Burger, then we meet back at the tent, ok?" said one fan with military authority.
This went on throughout the day, from 10.30am... and all the way through the night until the event ended. 12-freaking-hours, and people still wanted the burgers. People still lined up. It wasn't until all the burger heroes (more on them later!) actually ran out of burgers did the crowds finally dissipate. Incredible. The passion and love the burger fanatics had was truly mind-blowing.
Of course, props have to go to our I Eat Burger Heroes. From the moment the event kicked-off, they were tirelessly manning their stations. Despite the sweltering heat and the non-stop crowds, none of the heroes cut corners. "It's damn hot, man! But it's all good, we're having fun," said James from Burger Junkyard. Some rushed to get stock from their outlets so they wouldn't disappoint the fans waiting in line. Some had to 'borrow' buns from the stall-next-door to keep on making burgers!
"Memang ramai gila ni!" ("Man, this is a LOT of people!") said Abang Lee, who was grilling burgers non-stop. Lucky his wife was assisting him.
Abang Lee has been doing burgers for twenty six years.
They all made sure the fans got the best of what they could give. They repaid the love the fans had for them in the best way possible by making outstanding burgers. It was amazing to see the burger bosses and owners and managers on the grill. It was humbling to see these successful burger heroes on the ground with their crew. They were at the top of their game and totally justified why we selected them in the first place. These 20 burger vendors truly are heroes, in every sense of the word.
Best of all is the fact that one week or so on, the buzz is still going on. Our sources report the burger heroes are getting more fans coming to their places. Some of the burger heroes have become buddies and visit each others stalls. Young guns paid their respects to the old 'otais' of the Malaysian burger scene. It was genuine respect and sense of friendship between them.
Great burgers and great friends make a winning combo.
What a genuinely humbling and eye opening experience. Passionate burger fanatics and incredible burger heroes. We cannot thank them enough for their dedication. And to think that all this is because of the humble burger. A bun with a meat patty sandwiched inside. What else can I say? Food brings people together. And judging from the smiles and joy throughout the day and seeing people making new friends and sharing experiences with each other (burger heroes and fanatics alike), I think we managed to achieve what Friedchillies' is always about: making people happy through food.
Check out the #ieatburgers and #jomburgembira buzz on our FB, Twitter and Instagram!