The holy grail of menu development is landing on a new concept that thrills without alienating. Burger 21’s Corporate Chef Mike Remes says that his Bayou Burger, a limited-time offering (LTO), does just that.
“The great thing about this burger is that it has ‘Wow!’ factor without being intimidating. It appeals to people outside the burger scope,” he says.
Wanting to infuse big flavor in a surf-and-turf profile, Remes was looking for a homestyle feel that incorporated spice. “I landed on gumbo,” he says. “I utilized flavors that would resonate with our guests, but that they wouldn’t expect in burger form.”
He started with the in-house turkey burgers and brought in New Orleans flavor with andouille sausage and Cajun flavor, creating a new burger patty.
“The ‘Aha!’ moment happened when the ‘turf’ was done, so everything else fell into place,” says Remes. “I spiced up our house cabbage with our signature Ragin’ Cajun sauce for the burger to lay on, and decided the ‘surf’ would have to be shrimp.” Wanting it to stand alone, he went with blackened shrimp atop the burger patty. “Rounding out the flavor profile and in keeping with the spice trend, I drizzled Sriracha and our housemade rémoulade atop.”
All of this is layered within a brioche bun. The Bayou Burger was such a hit, it now runs every year at this 22-unit fast casual. “Every LTO we run, we look back to see if guests enjoyed the creation,” he says. “This not only exceeded expectations, it was the highest-selling LTO to date in 2014. It’s been back every year since.”