For the love of the veggie burger

Typically, when a line of New Yorkers stretches across multiple blocks and around corners, the people happen to be waiting in line for cronuts or other pastry-bagel hybrids. At the end of July, one such line spilled out from a veggie burger stand. Students earning online baking certificates should not worry, though – New Yorkers are not turning their palates to the healthy West Coast! These veggie burgers were designed to please those who regularly dine on those greasy meat sandwiches called hamburgers.

King of veggies
The chef behind this veggie burger craze is Brooks Headley. Headley is the pastry chef for Del Posto. His typical cuisine is famous for its intelligence and quirk. Often, Headley will incorporate various vegetables like celery and eggplant into his desserts. Though Headley works with pastries now, his first food love happened to be the veggie burger.

When he was young, Headley played drums for the band Young Pioneers. He loved veggie burgers so much that when deciding where to make tour stops he would choose locations where he knew good veggie burgers were served. As a chef he began experimenting with various flavors and coagulants. Most veggie burgers have a base of beans, eggs, soy or gluten to hold the patties together. Unfortunately, because of the high water content of the plant products, these burgers tend to quickly fall apart. With the help of other chefs, Headley tried cooking some vegetables before adding them to the patty, and this reduced some of the water content.

Headley was not attempting to create a healthy patty, he was hoping to make a burger reminiscent of fast food that was so realistic that even the biggest meatheads would choose to eat it. Headley tested his creations on the meat chefs at Del Posto’s and knew he had a winner once those chefs began requesting the veggie burgers on break. At first, only a few special customers like David Chang and Questlove were able to get their hands on these phenomenal burgers, but a pop-up Superiority Burger on the Lower East Side will serve them to the public.

Headley’s veggie burger is served on a traditional potato bun with iceberg lettuce, Muenster cheese, tomato and honey mustard. The extras are simple, letting the salt and caramelized edges of the burger shine. This tasty patty shows that veggie burgers have come a long way from their introduction in 1937 with Madison Foods’ Soyburger.

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