Melbourne's Fitnesscheatmeals & Upsize Burger Bar Part I
23 July, 2020
6 years ago, the Melbourne burger scene was vastly different. A burger was a burger. Beef patties between buns, iceberg lettuce, and tomato sauce were commonplace, the quintessential Fish and Chip shop burger was standard, until venues like Footscray’s 8-Bit Burger changed the game. The hipster-led burger renaissance was underway, and the American influence grew. Social media fed a budding romanticism of U.S. burgers via U.S. heavyweights Shake Shack and In-N-Out, and served to change the market. Beef patties became thinner and fried chicken sandwich-making became an art. During these years social media bloggers played a substantial part in making American indulgence a Melbourne thing. One of these people was Jayden Lococo. Through his twenties Jayden has consumed some heavy meals, but looking at him, you wouldn’t know it. A burger and decadent dessert connoisseur, in 2018 he combined what he had learnt with what he loved, in creating the Upzise Burger Bar pop-up
in the heart of Footscray. We sat down with him to ask about his time and involvement with Melbourne’s evolving burger scene, and about the drive behind Upsize Burger Bar, as well as when we can next expect to see it in action. This is Part 1 of a 2 Part series on Fitness Cheatmeals and Upsize Burger Bar.
When did you start food-blogging?
I started in 2015 mainly posting ‘cheat-meals’ on my personal Instagram page, creating a burger line on my profile with small reviews on each post. Early 2016 Fitnesscheatmeals was created, essentially because my wife (Fiancé at the time) said why I don’t put all my Cheatmeals on one Instagram page. The rest was history.
What food do you really seek out?
I spent all my food blogging time trying to present my three columns on my Instagram page, burgers, cheat-meals (burger spreads, pizza, cafe food) and desserts. I guess it was mostly American influences as Australia was always a few years behind and coming off the back of a US trip I wanted to capture what the market was at that time, as well as see if any future US food trends were starting.
Why did you start Upsize Burger Bar? Why did you choose the space in Footscray?
After coming back from the US in 2014, I realised that the burger market in Melbourne was essentially non-existent with a few key burger places just starting to open. From that moment on, I always wanted to open my own shop. Fast forward 4 years and after gaining a wealth of knowledge from the consumption of burgers, general discussion and in depth talks with burger shop owners and chefs, I thought it would be a good time to give it a crack. Footscray happened to be an opportunity that was presented and I went for it.
How much of a part did the food-blogging play in helping you and influencing what you served at Upsize?
Massively, it was all in the intention of being ‘Instagram worthy’ but also matching the aesthetics with its flavour, texture and consistency. As part of my food-blogging, I would always review burgers, give feedback and really pick a part each burger to understand what they were doing and how you could make it better. Usually the review would consist around, flavours, pairing, textures and how the ingredients were cooked (or sometimes weren’t).
Were there any Melbourne or American venues in particular that influenced and inspired parts of what you did at Upsize?
I had a few places that I grabbed some ideas from, in Melbourne, Sydney and the US. A few to mention: Balwyn Canteen, Leonard’s House of Love, Easeys, Royal Stacks, Milky Lane, In N Out, Elbows Mac and Cheese and a others that had a few ideas I saw on Instagram that I wanted to develop into my own.
What food and style of food did you serve and how did you formulate the menu?
Upsize went by the statement “not your ordinary burgers”. This statement resonated through all the dishes as each dish/ burger was made with some of the best ingredients I could find at the time, always producing quality and using that base to take things to a whole new level. Really bringing peoples food fantasies to one place. The menu was based off your basic double cheeseburgers and then being unique while always making sure it was balanced in flavour and texture as well as being aesthetically pleasing. A few burger adaptations and weekly specials with regular sides and special sides and shakes. I wrote down all my ideas and then put them into practice at home, getting an understanding of what I needed and how to make and design each burger. It all really came together when I had the proper ingredients to put the finishing touches on the burgers. Funny enough, other than my passion for food, nutrition and food blogging I didn’t have any actual hospitality experience.
Upsize Burger Bar