Sitting at Max’s Burgers on West Eighth Avenue at Cambie Wednesday night, it was difficult not to devour the entire burger placed in front of me.
The Local, as the behemoth has been dubbed by chef Travis Redpath, was not only huge but also covered in some of the finest add-ons a grass-fed burger could aspire to enjoy, including herb-crusted bacon from an Abbotsford-based pig farm and soft cheddar cheese from the Okanagan — all served up on a brioche bun made in Max’s downstairs bakery.
The burger was created for the first-ever Vancouver Foodster Best Burger Challenge, which includes 29 participating restaurants in the city, Richmond, Burnaby, West Vancouver and North Vancouver. Chefs were tasked to dream up the best burgers available on their menus and customers are invited to vote for their favourites until Nov. 30. Vancouver Foodster creator and blogger Richard Wolak is also in the midst of wrapping up the Best Pancake Challenge.
Because Max’s was the first stop on the Best Burger Challenge media tour, myself and the other women taking part carefully cut our Local burger in half, saving room for what was to come. That wasn’t the case for most of the men taking part though, and a glance around the table showed empty plates in front of most of them.
Carry-out dishes in hand, our small party headed off to stop two on our Best Burger tour, Luke’s Corner Bar, located at the corner of Granville Street and West 14th Avenue.
Chef Megan Martin didn’t play it safe for the challenge and took on the competition with a vegetarian burger made up of quinoa, toasted almonds, black beans and parmesan topped with wild mushrooms, B.C. cheddar and Luke’s signature southern-fried, beer-battered dill pickles and jalapeno peppers. We were also able to try the pickles and jalapenos as a side and to call them addicting would be an understatement.
But with stop three in mind, I attempted to keep my pickle and pepper consumption to a minimum prior to heading to Whet Kitchen Bar on Granville Island. I was starting to feel pretty full, but surprisingly when I saw the juicy burger created by chef Peter Gray placed in front of me, my appetite returned full force.
The Whet Burger is an indulgent serving of Alberta-grown beef highlighted with red pepper relish and “secret spices.” The burger had a Mediterranean flavour that distinguished it from any other I’ve eaten, and not just on this evening.
I know from experience there’s an art to making a truly delicious burger and for this challenge these chefs-turned-artisans have outdone themselves.
For a complete list of competing restaurants and cafes, or to vote for your favourite burger, visit vanfoodster.com.