16 August 2015

Chris Knights

Group Executive Chef - Young’s Burger Shack 

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your achievements and how you came to be where you are now? Where did your passion for food come from?

They say behind every great man is a great woman, and in my case that would be my wife Leanne. I also have 2 amazing kids, Ava & Harry, who take up all my time when I’m not working and are certainly my biggest achievements! Food however has always been a big part of my life, and my earliest memory of food is sitting round the table with the family and tucking into what mum made! My mum is the one who started my interest in food, as she’d always cook up a storm, from sometimes what would seem like no ingredients at all and, most importantly, it always tasted delicious!

I started off in the hospitality industry working for my mum at her pub. I used to peel sacks upon sacks of spuds every week as well as washing the dishes, this got me interested and I started to cook a little…I was only 13 at the time! Then I stepped outside the comfort of mums pub and went to work in some local rosette restaurants for the next big part of my life.

Shortly after this, I took on a job through a friend of a friend to sort out a casual dining restaurant that needed some structure in the kitchen along with a new menu. Thankfully it was a huge success which led to me becoming a food development chef for a chain of branded coffee/deli bar shops. This was all about creating a brand from scratch, I looked after everything to do with the food and ended up spending about two years of my life out of a suitcase whilst opening 35 new stores across the country.

Eventually living out a hotel room in England got a little tedious. So, I ended up working for one of my old suppliers as a development chef and quickly progressed to become head of food development. Quite a lavish job where I got to travel the world (these hotel rooms were a little better than the smaller hotels I had been staying in) to see and bring back exciting ideas and ingredients.

A few years ago an opportunity came up within Young’s that I simply couldn’t say no to, I’m now into my 5th year here and wow what a place to be! An amazing company to work for that’s filled with passionate people serving fantastic products both front & back of house, what more can I say!

What’s the most exciting thing about Burger Shack?

I don’t think there’s just one thing about burger shack that’s exciting….it’s everything. The seriously juicy burgers we get to please our guests with, our happy & helpful staff, our fantastic range of British craft beers and our amazing look & feel, from the graffiti on the walls at the Bull Streatham to the gypsy hut’s at the Windmill on the Common in Clapham. Each venue has its own charm.

What make’s a Young’s burger different from all the other burgers?

The training we provide to our chefs is key to delivering the product, I feel there are people that do give the right training but not everybody, hopefully that makes us a little different from the rest.

It’s vital the burger is seasoned just right and cooked at the right temperature. We want our burgers simply seasoned with salt & pepper and perfectly caramelised on the outside ultimately producing a mouthwatering & juicy centre.

We love steaming our burgers too and this is certainly different from the most UK burgers. We also load our patties with American style cheese, slow cooked onions infused with a little Young’s special and crunchy pickles before topping it with our freshly baked bun. We then place it under a cloche and give it a good old steaming, this is then placed on shredded iceberg, ketchup & mayo with the bottom half of the bun creating taste experience second to none!!

And lastly...where would you eat a burger if a Young’s burger wasn’t available?

It would have to be a Bleeker street burger, sitting down on the embankment overlooking the River Thames…Delicious and what a view!!

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