Former Nottingham IT worker wins UK’s best burger competition

A man who used to build websites as a career has been crowned the winner of the UK’s best burger. A juicy, dirty American-style double West Coast Burger from the Secret Burger Club wowed judges faced with the difficult task. Matt Pike, who lives in Leicestershire but launched the business in Nottingham, said: “We are absolutely delighted.

“We get people coming up to us regularly saying ‘that’s the best burger we’ve ever had’ so it’s nice to get some official recognition we are doing good stuff.” Matt and his right hand man Jacob Booth spent the weekend serving nearly 400 burgers to a crowd at Bustler Market in Derby, which hosted the Patty Party. Judges chomped their way through burgers from traders across the country including What’s Your Beef, Patty Freaks, Good Boy Burger and Yardbirds before declaring the Secret Burger Club the winner.

L>R Secret Burger Club’s Jacob Booth and Matt Pike

Matt launched the Secret Burger Club as a street food business nearly five years ago when he became disillusioned with his job in IT building websites.

“It’s a bit of a switch but I wasn’t really enjoying my job and I had to make a change and go with what was familiar to me and what I was passionate about and that was always food. I’d always been into my food from a very early age. “I used to watch Naked Chef when I was 11 years old – that was my get home from school thing.

A lot of my inspiration came when I went to LA when I was 16. “My auntie lives out there and she took me to In-N-Out Burger. That was the first burger I had when I landed in LA and I think that’s when it clicked in my head that I loved burgers.”

The SBC started out with a gazebo and table at Sneinton Market during Light Night in 2016 and it wasn’t long before they were invited to have a regular pitch at Nottingham Street Club in Victoria Centre. When asked the secret behind a top tasting burger Matt said: “Our ethos is good quality ingredients. It comes down to being quite obsessive on every single minor aspect and then you’ll get a great product from that.

“Start with a great bun, a squishy well-held together bun that’s going to support the meat and juices that come from the burger. “We have 80:20 meat to fat ratio – you need the fat in there to create a well-balanced flavour and texture. “Everything has to be fresh.

We use the smash technique so we make them into 4oz burger balls and use a very hot chrome griddle and smash the burger onto there. It creates a really nice crust on the burger, which gives it a deeper meatier flavour. “I believe it’s called the Maillard reaction.

We look for that on every burger.” At the start of the pandemic the SBC progressed from a stand to a food truck, which currently visits Milestone Brewery in Newark every Friday as well as locations in Melton Mowbray and Loughborough. “Unfortunately we don’t have a regular pitch in Nottingham at the moment but it’s where we want to keep our hand in as it’s where a lot of our loyal customer base started.

“When we open up a place it’s going to be within the city at the start of next year,” said Matt. Marcus Darwent, a food blogger who goes by the name of My Food Hunt, is a big SBC fan. He said: “They are truly excellent, a taste sensation, imprinted on my mind.

Time pauses as you take a bite so you can savour the moment a little longer.”