Editor Caitlin Reid sits down with Grill’d Founder Simon Crowe to chat about the burgers he has made with love.
Renowned for its paddock to plate philosophy, Grill’d now has more than 100 restaurants and continues to grow. Founder Simon Crowe shares how he has managed to stay true to his real food philosophy.
Q: Where did the idea behind Grill’d come from?
Like most people I occasionally craved a burger, but every time I had one I always felt bloated and heavy. I often complained to my mates about it who eventually told me to either put up or shut up. I was working as a marketing executive for Fosters in the US and saw a gap in the market for a decent burger that tasted great and was also good for you. It was then that the idea for Grill’d was born. We opened our first restaurant in Hawthorn in 2004.
Q: What is the food philosophy behind Grill’d?
From the start, I wanted to deliver a meal that was enticing and nutritious combined with the service ethic I often saw living in the US (Milwaukee) while working for Fosters. This meant building a menu made from only the highest quality, freshest ingredients, and using 100% grass-fed and free range beef and lamb, cage-free eggs, and produce delivered fresh from the local markets. We are proud to source many of our ingredients from small, family owned provedore suppliers like Mount Zero, Yumm dressings and Hussey & Co. With 112 restaurants it would be significantly easier to partner just with large suppliers, but I believe these little guys have the best product and that’s what we want for our burgers.
In recent years we have shifted our attention to catering for the many dietary tribes in Australia, from low carb to gluten free and vegetarian diets. We recently added the Low Carb SuperBun, which is made from all natural ingredients and caters for gluten free, wheat free, refined sugar-free, vegetarian, low carb, dairy free and paleo diets. I want everyone, no matter their dietary tribe, to be able to enjoy a nutritious meal at Grill’d and this will be reflected in the new menu which we are launching this year. If anyone is on a diet that only allows for low-carbs such as a paleo or a keto diet you will understand just how hard it is to find low-carb food products, especially when it comes to bread or buns! However, if you’re wanting to find additional foods that you’ll be able to consume while still dieting, click here to see the full list of keto bread options as one example of other nutritional alternatives.
Q: How do you source your ingredients?
Our beef comes from a family run business in Gippsland in Victoria and our lamb comes from south-west Victoria and is free from all hormones and antibiotics. A lot of our produce is delivered fresh daily from the local markets and we use A Grade Russet-Burbank potatoes from Tasmania to make our chips, ensuring that our chips are on the large side, which absorb much less oil than other chips. Our Grill’d artisan buns are baked fresh and delivered daily with no preservatives or added sugar and we work with local, family run bakeries. Each Grill’d restaurant works with a local bakery so the buns can be baked fresh and delivery daily.
Q: What is the ‘Loved By Lola’ menu items?
We have been working with Lola because our food philosophies naturally align. She has helped to develop our Nourish & Flourish burger, on the Low Carb SuperBun, and the Superpower Salad. The Low Carb SuperBun took 47 attempts to perfect and is gluten free, grain free, dairy free, refined sugar-free and suitable for those on a vegetarian or paleo diet. Lola is currently working with us to create more items for our new menu which will launch later this year, particularly looking at additional vegetarian and vegan options. In order to do this, I have been visiting a local vegetarian restaurant for inspiration on what kind of things should be on our menu.
Q: What is Local Matters?
In addition to burgers that “do good” for the body, I wanted the business to have the same “do good” philosophy and that is why we started Local Matters, our community donation program, back in 2011. Every month, every Grill’d restaurant discovers and promotes three local community groups, and customers choose how a donation of $500 is shared amongst them, providing funding and awareness for the local groups and engagement with our customers. To date we have raised more than $1.9 million for communities across Australia.
Q: What is still to come for Grill’d?
We are launching a new menu this year that will look to cater further to dietary tribes with more vegetarian and vegan offerings, plus additional ‘Loved by Lola’ menu items. We recently commissioned a research review to quantify the numbers of dietary food tribes in Australia and found more than half the population now identifies with a food tribe. The research found there are almost 7 million people following a low carb diet, over 4 million gluten free, over 2 million vegetarians, almost 500,000 vegans and more than 300,000 paleo and low/sugar-free followers. We want the new menu to cater further for these groups so no matter your tribe you can enjoy a nutritious and tasty meal at Grill’d. We are also continuing to expand our restaurants across Australia and looking to expand internationally.
Photo Credit: Grill’d
About the author
Caitlin Reid is a unique health professional with qualifications as an accredited nutritionist, accredited exercise physiologist and yoga teacher. Caitlin is passionate about all things health and wellness, and keeps up-to-date with the latest health research, which she uses when contributing expert advice to fitness, lifestyle and food companies. She is also the nutrition expert for the Women’s Fitness magazine, the dietitian for South Sydney Rabbitohs and NSW Swifts, and the ambassador for Papaya Australia. Follow Caitlin on Instagram @caitlinareid or visit her website.