Meet the Trader: Farbez Uddin smashes it as Burger Chef of the Year 2024

Farbez Uddin outside Bun & Sum’s new branch in Hackney. Pic: Megan Rickard 

He has only been in the business for three years and began selling his food on an industrial estate in Bow, but Bun & Sum owner Farbez Uddin, best known for his LA-style smash burgers, is now Burger Chef of the Year 2024.

In the National Burger Awards 2024, Uddin, who runs two outlets in east London with plans to create two more new branches, won the award for his ‘George Motz Oklahoma Smash’ burger. He had arrived at the event not expecting to win anything being up against “bigger brands” “We stood right at the back. So, when they announced our name, it took a long time for me to get down to the stage, they thought we had left. 

“It came about as a shock. It was amazing to compete there. We’re going to go back in September for their Champion of Champions, their ten-year anniversary. So, that’s going to be quite cool, and if we could come back with something that would be amazing”. 

Farbez Uddin with his Burger Chef of the Year 2024 award. Pic: Bun & Sum. 

Award-winning George Motz Oklahoma Smash. Pic: Bun & Sum 

Having grown up in Poplar on the Isle of Dogs with his Bangladeshi parents, Uddin created Bun & Sum, in the summer of 2021 following the closure of his “successful” property business as a result of COVID-19. Uddin’s wife came up with the initial idea for a burger shop, and the name ‘Bun & Sum’.  

He told Eastlondonlines: “My wife said, you’ve always wanted to do a food shop and you’ve always been into burgers so, why don’t you start a burger shop?”  Surprisingly, despite his passion for burgers, and menu having a wide variety of options, Uddin says he is “basic” with his favourite burger being a double cheeseburger. He says he “eats burgers all day” because he is constantly testing and trialling them. 

“Even when I go out, at other burger shops, I get their standard. Simple, easy, and if you can do it, the standard one, right, you know the rest of the menu is fine.” 

However, his customers do not think the same, with the two best-selling burgers being the Big S’Mac and the Bow Dip: “People love those. Bow Dip we named after the area we were in, Bow. Big S’Mac is our riff on the classic Big Mac so those two are a clear best, they are the front runners.” 

Burgers at Bun & Sum. Pic: Bun & Sum 

Bun & Sum currently have two branches, the first being in an industrial estate in Bow and the latest opposite Hackney Central Station.  

“We opened in Bow primarily because we were forced to. We tried to find locations, shops, actual shop fronts in East London as a whole.  We looked at Canary Wharf, Shoreditch, but no landlords would rent to us because we were new, even though I had a healthy bank balance.” 

“The industrial unit [Bun & Sum’s Bow location] actually used to belong to my dad who was downsizing his business, he’s got a catering company…I said I’ll take that industrial unit off him and turn it into a burger shop.” 

Uddin added that, the Hackney branch “came about by chance” after being approached by Oya Kitchen and liking the site, area and “vibe.”  

Inside Bun & Sum’s Hackney branch. Pic: Megan Rickard

“After moving in we found out we have a lot of customers in Hackney that usually order on UberEats and now they come in rather than ordering.” They plan to expand from their currently locations, and have already announced a new store opening in Camden Market later this year.  

A Whitechapel branch is also planned, with vintage arcade machines, a football table, and an air hockey table: “Proper classic American games that you would get, so we want it to be a whole different vibe there. Not just your burger joint but a proper vibe.” 

Uddin said “burger is America” so he draws a lot of inspiration from there. “[We] try to bring classic burgers that they do, that’s not necessarily available over here. So, like the pastrami burger wasn’t necessarily available here. A brisket burger has always been done just brisket, but we looked over in America and there’s smash patty brisket, bone broth on the sides or drizzled over. Even our green chilli burger is a New Mexico staple, if you go [to] New Mexico in America, it’s everywhere. We thought okay this isn’t done much in the UK, why? We trial it and if it pops, it pops if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.” 

Bun & Sum has amassed a significant social media presence, with over 61,000 followers on Instagram and over 10,000 on TikTok. “Social media as a whole has been really nice to us, whether it’s the bloggers, whether it’s the celebrities, or its normal people…We found, especially, people still go to Bow, people like that vibe, the whole look of it, it being in an industrial estate.” 

Burger Chef of the Year award displayed next to till at Bun & Sum’s Hackney branch. Pic: Megan Rickard

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