PITTSFORD, N.Y. (WIVB) – On Sunday, St. John Fisher University Executive Chef Joel Kraft and his staff set up a station of steak and another one featuring New England lobster rolls. But on what was the first day of training camp practices for the Buffalo Bills, the players’ interest was in another product.
“The team was lined up by the turkey burgers. So I knew something was up,” Kraft said.
Something Bills Quarterback Josh Allen said that day would help the turkey burger legend grow.
“We’ve got TBT after this – Turkey Burger Time. They got the best turkey burgers here,” Allen said. Other Bills players later confirmed the popularity of the turkey burgers.
After the 2022 NFL MVP favorite said that over the weekend, Kraft’s phone lit up with about a dozen text messages. He couldn’t help but chuckle. Out of everything he and his team prepare, there’s buzz about a burger?
“It was nice to see some accolades on the decisions that we’ve made, albeit about a burger,” he said with a laugh.
On Wednesday, sous chef Fidel Torres produced a turkey burger – the same one St. John Fisher students enjoy when they’re on campus – topped with lettuce, tomatoes, and jalapeños (Allen’s favorite topping). While there’s nothing particularly complicated about it, he and Kraft agree the key is sourcing good food.
“Simple. Good ingredients. Good technique,” Torres said.
The St. John Fisher staff gets the product from Rochester-based Palmer Food Services, Kraft said. When the Bills come to town for training camp, he works with their trainers and nutritionists to put a menu together for their short stay.
“I’ve been given some standards which I work within,” he said. “My team and I create a rotating menu within that.”
After the Bills spent a couple of years away – due to the COVID-19 pandemic – Kraft and his team are happy to have them back.
“It’s great to see my team firing on all pistons right now,” the executive chef said. “(We’re) really excited to create good dishes and good food.”
The praise isn’t meaningless. Kraft said Allen’s words about the turkey burgers were “heartwarming” and “uplifting” for the staff.
Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2017. See more of his work here.