It’s no secret! I’m a fan of Justin North’s cooking! More than that though, I’m a fan of his ethos, and his support of a sustainable and local approach to food. Justin and Georgie North opened Plan B next to their Sydney restaurant Becasse to utilise all of the beef – nose to tail. The original North burgers – in their hole in the wall burger joint – were designed to not only be totally tasty but also to use those cuts of beef that weren’t used at their Becasse restaurant next door. The burgers were so popular that business people came from all over Sydney to eat them – sometimes sitting on milk crates outside the joint while wearing their suits. So, it was a no brainer that I’d say ‘yes’, when I was invited to pop along to see behind the scenes of the new burger joint Charlie & Co with Chef Justin North.
Do you want to know the story of how Charlie & Co was named? I love this story. In researching the hamburger for this new venture, Justin and Georgia North travelled as far back in time as Ghengis Khan when what could loosely be called a hamburger was beef that sat between the man and his saddle. Closer in time though was a character called Hamburger Charlie.
HE HAD A COUPLE OF FRYING PANS,
SOME COFFEE AND SOME BREAD,
AND A LOT OF BEEF ALL CHOPPED UP,
“FINE HAMBURGER,” HE SAID
HE WAS NEVER IN A HURRY
& HE ALWAYS WORE A SMILE
HE BORROWED TWENTY DOLLARS
AND CONTINUED ON THIS WAY.
Extract of poem by Romy Reynolds to celebrate
his friend Charlie’s 65th birthday, 1935.
And, extract also courtesy of Charlie & Co menu.
While Charlie was the inspiration for this luxury burger joint name, the “& Co” pays homage to all of the others who have a place in the story. There’s a trilogy to this tale too. Justin reminds me Charlie is also his son’s name. And, as he proudly shows the specially designed burger boxes for take out – he says that they are like the gold wrapper in the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (so there’s the 3rd Charlie … Charlie and The Chocolate Factory). Everything is thoughtful – the box has a shallow base to accommodate the burger and make for easier ‘on the move’ eating. Not that take out is the only option – there is also a licensed dine in area with gorgeous space and light that makes you forget you’re in the food court of a shopping mall.
Grass fed wagyu cheese burger
Serves 4 200g burgers
400g wagyu beef
100g wagyu fat
3 medium brown onions
30g unsalted butter
30ml Madeira (Malmsey)
Pinch salt and pepper
1 egg (beaten)
Mince the beef and fat together through the coarse blade of your mincer and place in the fridge. It is important to keep the mix cold at all times otherwise the mix will turn into a mushy paste.
Cut the onions into a rough dice and sauté until golden and caramelized in the butter. Deglaze with the Madeira and cool.
Add the breadcrumbs, salt, pepper and egg together and mix well.
To check the seasoning, panfry a small piece of burger and taste.
Mould into patties and set in the refrigerator.
Sear in a hot pan and cook for 2 minutes on a moderately high heat, turn over and cook for 1 minute, add the cheese and cook for another minute.
Garnish (for each burger)
100g Brioche or sour dough bun
Split the buns in half and grill until evenly toasted add the cooked burger patty and garnishes to your liking and serve immediately.
One of the great things about Charlie & Co burgers is that the bread is made on the premises. In fact, early next year the bakery will also open in the next stage of the Westfields complex and you’ll be able to buy the bread too. You and I are really privileged – Inside Cuisine was first behind the scenes to see the bakery.
Behind the scenes I learnt more about the reason that Justin and Georgia North are able to expand. It’s about the people that are the team. The team from Etch and Becasse are lending a hand in the Charlie & Co kitchen as it gets started. Justin and Georgie build loyalty in their staff. In the bakery, I met a team member who has been with them for more than 10 years. This says as much about the people as it does about their food. The loyalty springs from the same nurturing spirit that I want from someone who cooks my food.
Whether or not you’re in the Sydney CBD why don’t you make a trip to Level 5 Westfields and try Charlie & Co for yourself.
Charlie & Co
Level 5, Shop 509, Cnr Market & Castlereagh St
Sydney NSW 2000
+61 2 8072 7777