By Matt Jamieson
The art of the gourmet burger was on full display last week in Halifax.
Burger restaurants across the city, 22 of them, held week-long specials on some of their most popular creations to support Feed Nova Scotia.
Specials included a jalapeno loaded Texas burger from Bearly’s, a lamb burger from Darrell’s Restaurant, a special triple cheeseburger from the Chickenburger and many more.
“People were going for the special,” says Bill Pratt, owner and chef at Cheese Curds Gourmet Burgers and Poutinerie.
Cheese Curds sold a six ounce burger topped with three types of mushrooms, spinach and Swiss cheese for $8.75, $3.25 of which went to Feed Nova Scotia.
Pratt says they sold 325 of the special gourmet burgers, more than any other burger that week.
“We got a lot of people that come back,” says Pratt. “They want to eat their way through the burger and try something else.”
Pratt says Cheese Curds and other gourmet burger restaurants offer quality fast food restaurants can’t equal. Holding a cheeseburger from a nearby fast food chain, he explains the difference between that and a gourmet burger.
“Some people eat to live, while other people live to eat. This is eat to live, it’s sustenance.”
He weighs the $1.50 fast food burger; it’s about a one ounce patty.
Pratt says that in order to get the same amount of meat as a Cheese Curds burger, you would have to pay $9.00 at the fast food restaurant.
“You can get my burger here at $5.95, which means I should probably be charging more to keep up with that place.”
“I don’t know where that meat is from, what it comes from, who produced it, what went into it,” he says. “But, I visit my butcher everyday, I know where it’s coming from.”
Pratt says knowing your butcher is the key to ensuring a quality burger.
“You can see it’s very meaty when you bite into it, it’s got flavour,” he says. “It’s not a frozen patty that was produced in some factory in who-knows-where, it’s a fresh product.”
“With all my ingredients what I’m trying to get back to is real, quality products.”
Pratt, who also owns Habaneros Modern Taco Bar, says the community loves the gourmet burgers. With 2,200 customers each weekend at his two restaurants, he can tell the city is enjoying his food.
“People will tell ten of their friends and it just creates line-ups,” he says, “but we’ve gotten a lot faster now.”
Pratt says when the restaurant first opened, it was “panic city.”
Pratt now plans to open a second location in Burnside this year. He says the burgers are the key to Cheese Curds’ success.
“I wanted to make comfort food that people could afford time and time again,” he says. “It’s quality, and that’s the difference.”
But while Pratt says Halifax Burger Week was great for getting those quality burgers out to Haligonians, that wasn’t Burger Week’s biggest goal.
“I had too many people saying ‘who’s going to win the competition? Who’s better?’ For us, we didn’t want to go into that. I think the winner of Burger Week was Feed Nova Scotia.”