Before he started Baby G Burger, Cam Blanchard had never worked in a kitchen. This Sunday, he’s opening his first restaurant serving his ultra-popular smashed burgers on Avondale’s main drag.
A motorcycle mechanic by trade, he started obsessively making burgers during the Covid-19 outbreak. He kept going until he was satisfied with the signature smash patty style he’s become known for.
It all came about because Blanchard, who was born and bred near Boston in Massachusetts, struggled to find the north-eastern US state’s fast-casual style of food anywhere in Auckland.
After he and his New Zealand-born partner Greta Gregory (who’s a casting director, actor and the “G” in Baby G) moved to Auckland from Sydney, they spent lockdown with Gregory’s parents. They made burgers to order, which were an instant hit – with her parents acting as delivery drivers.
According to Blanchard, what makes Baby G Burger unique is the way the patties are smashed – they have crispy edges and a thicker and beefy middle once cooked.
Now, two years later and following regular pop-up appearances around the city at locations like the Henderson night markets, Kinship Takapuna and even the couple’s home in Henderson, he’s ready to set up shop for good.
His vision is to bring the style of the American fast-food joints and family restaurants of the ‘80s and ‘90s to New Zealand. He is a fan of easy-going places that serve burgers, fries and fried chicken.
“People have tried to do it, but it never really feels authentic,” he says. “Everything is just a little bit off – which comes down to a lack of real-life experience. It just misses the mark.”
Blanchard also finds inspiration in the McDonald’s and Burger King meals he ate throughout his childhood. He thinks people might be surprised by how much fast food he consumes – he orders meals from drive-throughs at least twice a week.
Moving into physical premises means Blanchard can expand the menu, but Blanchard is eager to keep it tight – at least to begin with.
You can still order the signature Oklahoma Dreaming burger with its single or double smash patties (that’s two patties, both smashed), American cheese, mustard mayo, hot sauce, maple syrup, pickles and onions. This is joined on the menu by a classic cheeseburger, fries, and chicken tenders, with specials such as patty melts to come. Baby G Burger also caters to gluten-free diets and has vegetarian options such as halloumi. Plans are in progress for a vegan offering.
The shop itself seats 15 people and was re-done over four months with every detail installed by Blanchard himself. It's pared-back with off-white textured walls, deep brown slatted wood fronting the counter, and matching banquette seating on one side with tall stools at the window.
An open pass means you can watch the grill action from where you wait, and the shop sign – in Helvetica typeface – is visible from the intersection of Great North Road and Rosebank Road. The service is friendly and simple – to the point, like the food.
Baby G Burger opens this Sunday, October 8, at noon.
Baby G Burger
1879 Great North Road, Avondale
Thurs to Sun 5pm-9pm
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