Last year Tim Yamat tasted and rated more than 100 burgers during the annual Burger Welly event. Capital asked him to select his top five from the 2023 programme.
Tim is the man behind the Instagram account titty.eats. Originally from the Philippines, Tim spent much of his childhood in Canada, before eventually settling here in Wellington. As a son of two diplomats, he grew up experiencing different countries and cultures, and it ignited his love of food.
One of five siblings, his family nickname “Tati” originates from his mispronunciation of “United States” as “tatie or tati” during his toddler years. Today, he is affectionately known as “Titty,” an abbreviation from his initials, TTY (Timothy Troy Yamat). Described by friends as a happy chappy with a kind heart and a contagious laugh, his personality shines through in his culinary endeavours.
Aged 16, Tim began his first job flipping burgers at Burger King and began to appreciate the satisfaction of creating delicious meals. Two years later, he dropped out of college to enrol in the Culinary Arts course at Weltec, before starting a job as a kitchenhand at D4 on Featherston Street. Climbing the culinary ladder, Tim eventually became the head chef and baker at a café in Thorndon. However, the demanding hours and responsibilities prompted him to reevaluate this career and move to an office job ten years ago.
Tim says while food has always been a source of fascination for him, his father and older brother were the family’s talented cooks. Before developing his Instagram profile, he maintained a sporadic food blog where he shared recipes and reviews. Influenced by culinary personalities like Andrew Zimmern, Anthony Bourdain, Emeril Lagasse, Matty Matheson, and Wolfgang Puck, Tim became passionate about sharing his food experiences.
In 2015, during a challenging period in his personal life, he sought solace and distraction in documenting his culinary adventures on Instagram. In 2016 he began reviewing the WOAP burgers, and his account, titty.eats, jumped in popularity.
Food memories clearly endure in Tim’s mind – he cites a Rockwell & Sons burger from 2014 as the perfect burger – but the strongest food impression he mentions is his father’s Palabok. A traditional Filipino rice noodle dish with a rich pork and shrimp sauce, he considers it the best he’s ever tasted, and testament to his family’s culinary heritage.
In the last three or four years of Burger Welly, there’s always a Filipino-inspired burger. This one from Lazy Juan is interesting. The pickled mango chips and shrimp paste ranch side could take me back to my childhood days of eating sour green mango with Bagoóng (fermented fish or krill or shrimp paste with salt.) Can’t wait.