It’s rare that a person is able to propel themselves from self-appointed fast food connoisseurship to becoming figurehead of a lucrative business venture, but for Jimmy Hurlston unwavering dedication to the consumption of burgers has granted him the status of new-wave culinary pioneer. The author of ‘The Burger Book’ – a tome dedicated to all things beef patty, has spent much of his adult life to the pursuit of buns, cheese, and bacon. His adventure has taken him across the USA in the once pristine sneakers you see in the gallery. Eventually Jimmy’s journey brought him back to Melbourne and his latest venture, Easey’s, a burger joint serving up burgers in a refurbished Hitachi train carriage on top of a Collingwood building.
True style classics are hard to find. Of course, there are the exceptions that manage to transcend the fickleness of trends and emerge as wardrobe staples that traverse generations and subcultures without losing their allure. The Converse Chuck Taylor All Star is one such staple, a classic sneaker that’s inspired countless individualsfor almost a century. Capturing the imagination of creative’s from all walks of life, the humble All Staroffers a blank canvas for self-expression. With that in mind, we spoke with six individuals from a widerange of creative disciplines about their journeys, both physically and professionally.
What is it about the burger that made you want to dedicate so much of your life to it?
For a long time I have had a very close affinity with the burger. For me, it is the perfect food. It can be eaten in one hand. It has meats, dairy, cereal, fruit and vegetables and as a young buck, that was the dietary requirements that were preached to us. The other amazing thing about burgers is their diversity. You can get meaty burgers with just meat and cheese, you can also get somewhat super healthy options. The number of new and old venues that have dedicated their fare to the humble hamburger is testament to its diversity and the world’s insatiable appetite.
How far into your culinary quest did you experience the best burger you’ve had so far?
I am still searching for the best burger. Obviously being able to make my own has led me down a number of different paths as well as being able to eat what I think is the best burger at that time.
Did you want this project to culminate in opening your own burger restaurant from the beginning?
It seems the natural progression to open up a burger venue. It seemed the most positive and applicable use of all of the research I had carried out. However, it was not my plan when I set about [pursuing] burgers on a full time basis. The idea behind that shift was to write a book and just see where it would take me.
Is there any significance in opening Easey’s in a train carriage after journeying all over Victoria to compile the Burger Book?
It is a nice romantic notion that the train signifies the journey. However, the significance of the train is much deeper than just travelling to eat burgers. It stems out of the Melbourne graffiti scene. I had long had a keen interest in graffiti (as does my business partner,) especially the homegrown graffiti. Being part of the scene opened many a door on many a shore. The designer of the building that plays host to Easey’s is a man who goes by the moniker ‘Prowla’, it was his idea to send the iconic Hitachi carriages to the roof and it was he who invited us to be involved in the project.
You’ve recently been travelling through rural Australia. Have you been stuck in a situation yet where you were unable to get your meat, cheese, and bacon fix?
Luckily for me the hamburger is not restricted to urban areas. Some of the great Australian burgers live in remote parts of the country. I think our love of meat helps fuel these roadside diners and truckstops and take away venues with all manner of people. The other great thing about rural hamburger venues is the operators. Often they operated by your quintessential Australian first, second, third, fourth, fifth or sixth generation it doesn’t matter, these people have embraced our culture and are cooking up some mean burgers. I love it when people recommend a truckstop or a roadside burger. They invariably have an emotional connection with these venues that cannot be broken. “I used to eat here when me and the old boy would go fishing,” and that sort of nostalgic appreciation.
Physically, has your burger passion taken you anywhere you never expected to go?
As a young kid I was skinny as a rake. Physically my burger passion has taken me to a large waist size. [Laughs.] Travelling has been great, especially now that it is all a business expense.
Do you have any dream burger destinations? Any other culinary projects you’d like to get involved with?
Oh there are lots of dream burger destinations; most of those are in the USA. I am heading there very shortly so hopefully I can tick of some of those burning burger bucket list locations. Dyer’s in Memphis is high up there. They deep fry their patties in a big vat of oil that has not been changed in over 100 years. They say the burgers are served with “Vitamin G”, the “G” referring to grease. They do not clean it and they do not add to it. Its amazing, they say the fat from the meat adds to it naturally.
There are lots of culinary projects I want to get involved in, I am constantly looking for new things to stick my grubby mitts into. Food is one of life’s necessary luxuries – we need to eat to survive so why not enjoy what you eat.
What’s the craziest experience you’ve had in your All Stars? By the look of them, they’ve been through a lot.
I trekked over parts of the states eating burgers, between LA, San Diego, Dallas, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas and Mexico I ate 64 in 16 days.
For more in the series:
Made By You: Lee Spielman of Trashtalk