Daniel Wilson likes his hamburgers high. Not add-a-bacon-rasher-and-a-slice-of-square-cheese high, but vertiginous, gravity-defying, and near impossible to eat. In fact, the New Zealand-born chef and co-owner of the Huxtaburger restaurant chain in Melbourne, Australia, has thoughts on all kinds of burger-related matters, from the beef (Wagyu) to the chips (crinkle-cut) to the butter to brush on the bun (clarified), which he expounds in scientifically precise detail in his cookbook The Huxtaburger Book, published this month.
"A burger must be the sum of all of the parts and not just a rissole in a loaf of bread," Wilson tells Esquire. "Think of it like a movie, it cannot survive on one actor alone." (We're guessing he hasn't seen Sam Rockwell's excellent turn in 2009's Moon, but we'll let it slide.) The burgers in Wilson's recipe collection, which have a Cosby Show theme – perhaps a little more newsworthy than intended – include the Theo (double cheeseburger with bacon), the Vanessa (bacon and egg) and the Clair (fried chicken thighs).
For us, though, it's got to be the Cliff, named for the paterfamilias, stacked with 440g of Wagyu beef, cheddar, streaky bacon, beetroot, salad, pickles and an egg. And has Wilson got any tips on how to eat the Cliff with a modicum of elegance? "Turning the burger upside down is a more ergonomic way of doing it," he advises. But if all else fails? "Hold tight and open wide."
The Huxtaburger Book by Daniel Wilson is out now (Hardie Grant)