Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
Grill chef from Woodstock beefs it up with burger big boys
BY DAY he is an IT consultant, by night an award-nominated burger chef.
Now Woodstock’s Mark Thomas has had his skills at the grill recognised in a national competition.
The 52-year-old was a runner-up in Simply Beef and Lamb magazine’s Battle of the Burgers contest this month.
He beat more than 140 applicants after being nominated by his family who have shared the fruits of his labours.
Eight finalists faced a cook-off at London’s Central Street Cookery School to impress judge, former JLS boy band member JB Gill.
While many food fanatics get inspiration from their family, Mr Thomas felt compelled to cook.
He said: “It came from a young age and having a mother as a dreadful cook – it was either sink or swim.
“I felt fairly comfortable at the final – I’ve cooked in some pretty hairy situations before, such as on a 125ft yacht in the Mediterranean Sea in 1985.
“It’s in no way me being arrogant, but my friends weren’t surprised when I got to the final.
“They just said, ‘what, you didn’t win?’”
Though not a trained chef, Mr Thomas, a workforce management consultant, has managed Woodstock pubs The Black Prince and The Marlborough Arms.
He added: “What I really like about burgers is that they can be anything, from nursery food to a gourmet delight.
“A burger can be a humble sandwich or something quite amazing.”
He said he tries to source food locally if possible and often buys fruit and vegetables from the Oxford Covered Market.
The secret to his success is that he does not use any binding agents, such as egg, for the minced beef.
He added: “If you simply salt the mince it will naturally set and it makes the burger more tasty.
“I can spend up to five hours prepping a burger sometimes, but some weeks go by where I don’t cook them at all.”
Daughter Charlotte, 20, a medical student at Manchester University, said: “Burgers are his speciality.
“I’ve been a bit spoilt growing up with his food. When we go to restaurants, the burgers there just don’t live up to his.”
Mr Gill, whose chart-topping group split in April, said: “Mark’s creation was so tasty.
“It just goes to show with some innovative thinking and novel ideas you can turn a simple burger into a culinary feast.”
Simply Beef and Lamb’s Rebecca Miah said: “He impressed us with his flavoursome and succulent burgers and we’re thrilled to name him a Battle of the Burgers runner-up.”
Essex’s Jenny Long won the £2,000 top prize with her Mum’s Sunday Lunch Spectacular Burger.
Comments are closed on this article.