Last weekend I was lucky enough to attend an exclusive bloggers cooking class followed by lunch at Ribs & Burgers in Bondi. I was joined by fellow bloggers Mae from Passionatemae, Katrina from 2 Hungry Guys and Yvonne from Excuse Me Waiter.
In line with Ribs & Burgers’ philosophy of providing a place people feel at home, we were given a warm, friendly welcome from chef Gareth and marketing manager Mona. Despite having a disastrous trip over (empty fuel tank (thanks, Boyfriend), a near miss with another vehicle (my bad) and almost turning the wrong way down a one way street (I’m a good driver, I swear), I could tell it was going to be a great day.
We started with an introduction from Gareth about the history of Ribs & Burgers, the way they operate, and their plans for the future. Three years ago they first started with one store in Neutral Bay, and have since opened ten stores across NSW, Victoria and Queensland. They don’t plan on stopping there and have big plans for the future – they have three more stores opening in NSW this year so good news for you if you’re located near Chatswood, Stanhope and Zetland. And – they’re also opening their first international store in Vegas.
With Mona as his model, Gareth then explained the difference between the different types of ribs – true baby back ribs, spare ribs, riblets and short ribs.
Then, we were led to the kitchen to take a closer look at ribs and how to prepare them perfectly. Not before a quick thickshake detour though.
We were given samples of two of the thickshakes from the Ribs & Burgers menu, which they are proud of – with good reason. I tried the vanilla malt thickshake (the other flavour was Milo), and it was incredible.
First on the agenda of our cooking class, was learning all about ribs, how to cook them and exactly how they do it at Ribs & Burgers. Gareth explained that the ribs are sous vide (cooked in vacuum sealed bags in a water bath) for eight hours before they arrive at each Ribs & Burgers restaurant.
They are then prepped which involves wet-rubbing (pork) or dry-rubbing (beef and lamb) and removing the silverskin (the slippery membrane on the ribs, which is chewy and gross). We learnt that the method for this is different for each animal. With beef, for example, the silverskin is scraped out with a spoon. Pork is a little bit trickier and requires some knife work. And for lamb, the fattiest of the ribs, it’s best left on.
The ribs are then cooked on a super hot grill. They are turned and smothered with Ribs and Burgers special secret basting sauce four times each.
When the ribs start to caramelise you know they are on their way to perfection.
The ribs are done and ready for my favourite bit – taste-testing!
The pork was my favourite of the three. It has a really delicious sweet-but-savoury flavour and is complemented by the basting sauce so perfectly.
The beef was also delicious, with a really strong meaty flavour. It was funny to see how much bigger beef ribs are straight after eating pork ribs.
Last but not least, were the lamb ribs. These were definitely the smallest of the three and also the richest. Gareth told us that lamb ribs taste different at different points during the year. I’ll have to come back in autumn (and then winter and spring) and find out for myself.Oh, and that basting sauce? Finger lickin’ good!
Next on the agenda was learning how to make the perfect burger. Everything is thought-out meticulously, from the buns to the meat and what order things go on in.
The burger we made, The Original, features a beef mince patty on a sesame seed bun with iceberg lettuce, tomato, Spanish onion, dill pickles and Ribs & Burgers’ pink and BBQ sauce.
Each patty consists of 160 grams of super high quality, grass-fed Angus beef from Wagga Wagga. They are made fresh every day and literally nothing else is added – no additives or binding agents.
The patties are put on a very hot grill, and while they are cooking we turn our attention to the other ingredients.
The bread, sourced from St Honores Bakery in Mosman, is baked fresh every day. Gareth shows us how to carefully slice the bread (let a sharp knife do all the work!) and then shows us how each bun is lightly toasted.
Another important component is the sauce. The two sauces – Pink Sauce and BBQ are made from secret recipes dating back forty years. The Pink Sauce goes on the top, and BBQ on the bottom.
The next important step is making sure the burger is assembled correctly. This means: a specific order of ingredients, level surfaces, placing the onion and pickles near the meat in order to cut through the richness of the meat and balance the flavour.
Afterwards, we got to make our own (which sadly didn’t look as good as Gareth’s), and then eat our burgers as well as anything we wanted to try off the menu.
Boyfriend (who joined us for lunch) and I tried the Wagyu Burger – “Premium Wagyu beef mince, baby cos, tomato, Spanish onion, dill pickles, crispy onion rings, topped with pink and BBQ sauce”.
This ginormous burger was packed full of flavour and tasted amazing. The Original, made by moi, was also incredible if I do say so myself.
We also couldn’t resist trying some fries (what burger meal is complete without fries?). The fries were so, so good – deliciously crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.
Overall, it was a really great masterclass and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I walked away having learnt a lot about cooking ribs and burgers, as well as cooking on a hot grill. And, of course, how to perfectly slice a bread roll in half. The food was also amazing, and the quality and passion that goes into the ribs and burgers of Ribs & Burgers is definitely apparent.
Would I go again? Sure would.