BY KERIN MAYNE
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Burgers are plentiful in Houston, from the 1950’s era family-owned stand-alone to the Texas-original mega-chain with almost 800 locations nation-wide, and there are so many more in between. So, what makes Craft Burger Truck different from the rest? Is it the runny-yolk egg sitting atop the savory and sweet bacon that’s nestled in the Morning After Burger? Or is it the Foie Gras Burger with its combination of savory foie gras and bourbon-glazed onions that accompany the burger? Perhaps it’s the offering of the Blackened Salmon Burger with creamy avocado slices and sweet-n-spicy chili glaze? What about the first Houston winner of the Food Network show “Chopped”, Shannen Tune, being at the helm?
The real reason that Craft Burger Truck stands apart from the rest is because Chef Tune’s passion for cooking is manifested in his carefully sourced ingredients and his attention to details. Culinary skills can be taught, and recipes can be acquired or created, but the innate passion required to be a truly great chef is something you’re gifted with at birth.
At the age of 2, after his mother asked if he wanted to make a chocolate cake with her, Shannen took all of the ingredients for the cake out of the pantry and placed them on the kitchen counter. He laid them out in the order he had watched his mother use the same ingredients just the day before. If it wasn’t clear from the many cooks in Shannen’s family lineage that he was destined to follow in their footsteps, this demonstration of his innate abilities was the writing on the wall.
When Shannen talks about the details that go into his cooking, you can hear the passion. You can taste the passion when you take a bite of the Morning After Burger with bacon that has been rubbed with chili powder and brown sugar. You can taste the passion when you experience the Foie Gras Burger with its bourbon-glazed onions that have been seared, smoked with Post Oak wood chips, and misted with bourbon. The passion is in the details. It’s also in the choice of the all-natural meat that he uses for his burgers. Shannen has personally visited the farms where the meat for his burgers is sourced. He can trace each burger back to the cow it was harvested from. The fresh, never-frozen, hormone and antibiotic-free meat has been raised on an organic, all-natural feed from beginning to end. Even the spice-blend that Shannen uses has been carefully created using all-natural spices, omitting the artificial anti-caking agents often found in other pre-packaged seasonings in favor of a spice that naturally serves as an anti-caking agent (does the same job).
So, where is the difference? It’s in the passion and the details. It’s in the carefully sourced ingredients. It’s in every shortcut-free dish that Shannen serves from his kitchen on wheels, Craft Burger Truck.
PHOTOGRAPHY: KERIN MAYNE