At Bürbelmaiers, one might be forgiven for thinking that teleportation has become a reality. Every bit the proper British pie shop, the cozy space would be as at home in London or Leicester as it is in its column-lined storefront in Ocean Grove. As it happens, science fiction plays a role in the shop’s origin story. The experience of a “Star Trek moment,” to be exact.
Well before pies became his culinary muse, Chef Peter Burbela worked as an NJIT-trained project manager for a mechanical engineering firm. The job may have suited his left-brain skills, which later would be translated into his old-world-meets-new culinary ethos, yet it left him unfulfilled. Burbela, an avid home cook, would escape into the realm of cookbooks.
“It’s Saturday night, two or three o’clock in the morning, and I’m sitting there with Jacques Pepin and Julia Child,” Burbela recalls. Poring over recipes, he pondered how he might translate them if he were to helm a restaurant. One such night, a vintage television rerun enticed him to take that thought experiment a step further.
“There was this old episode from the original Star Trek, ‘The Trouble with Tribbles.’ They were supposed to be having an R&R break, and Kirk and Spock walk into this conference room and Scotty is at his terminal.” In the episode, Kirk comments on the fact that Scotty, lieutenant commander of the Enterprise, is elbow deep in a technical manual, at odds with his missive to relax. Burbela smiles as he narrates. “And Scotty looks up at him with a big grin on his face and says, ‘Aye, Captain. I am relaxing!’”
It sparked a revelation.