Gearing up for YYC Burger Week

Last year, the organizers of Calgary's first Burger Week pitted 16 restaurants against each other for the ultimate Calgary burger smackdown and now, the event is back - and is bigger and better.

30 of Calgary's best restaurants doing burger battle until May 10 for a good cause

Craft Beer Market is one of the restaurants taking part in this year's YYC Burger Week nd will be competing with their Brant Lake Wagyu Burger, comprised of roasted garlic and thyme wagyu patty, mushroom and chili duxelle percorino, bacon relish and crispy onions on a house-made pretzel bun. (YYC Burger Week)

Last year, the organizers of the first YYC Burger Week pitted 16 restaurants against each other for the ultimate Calgary burger smackdown. 

The rules were simple — each burger must be prepared by a locally-owned business and sourced only from local farmers and suppliers, a portion of the proceeds of burger sales must go to a charity and the public will vote to decide the winner.

Almost 6,000 burgers were sold that week, over $6,300 was raised and distributed to eight local charities and the winning burger didn't come from one of the big, trendy restaurants. Instead, it was tiny Naina's Kitchen, a small strip mall off Ogden Road, which took home the title and has since become well known for loved for their custom-stuffed burgers.

This year, 30 of the city's best restaurants are doing burger battle again. Burger Week started May 2 and will run until May 10, with each restaurant coming up with their own special creation.

There are new categories, for burgers costing $10, $15 and $20, and 10 per cent of burger sales will go to charity.

The public will once again vote for their favourite burgers but this year there will be three winners, one from each price category plus an additional award for the most generous restaurant.

New creations on the menu

Burger Week participants are coming up with creations not previously on the menu, giving Calgarians the chance to indulge in concoctions like the Duck Burger at National on 10th, which has a liquid foie gras centre, Saskatoon berry barbecue sauce, carmelized onion and orchard apply chutney served on a buttery brioche bun. 

At the Ship & Anchor, they'll be serving up a six-ounce bison burger topped with aged cheddar, crispy fried onions and salsa verde, with lettuce, tomato and jalapeno mayo on a brioche bun.

But it's not just about the beef and bison — at Billingsgate they're serving up a samurai ahi tuna burger with seared soy and sesama ahi tuna, wasabi aioli, salmon ikura roe and crispy fried dulse stuffed into a freshly baked Cobs bun.

Here's the 2014 Burger Week lineup. For more information, check out the website.

  • $10 Burgers: Billingsgate, Burger 320, Clive Burger, Eats of Asia, Flipp'n Burgers, National on 17th, Primal Soup Company, Ship & Anchor.
  • $15 Burgers: Blowfish Sushi Lounge, Canvas Bistro, Craft Beer Market, Fine Diner Inglewood, Grumans Deli, Houstin's Public House, Loungeburger, Murdoch's Bar and Grill, Naina's Kitchen, Oak Tree Tavern, Winebar Kensington.
  • $20 Burger: Anejo, Blue Star Diner, Brasserie Kensington, Diner Deluxe, downtownfood, Main Dish, Market, National on 10th, Notable, Selkirk Grille, Yellow Door Bistro

If you just want to stay in and make burgers at home, or outside on the barbecue, you can recreate last year's winner at home.

Naina's-style stuffed burgers

Stuff your burgers with any ingredients you like, but make sure they're cooked first so that you don't have to worry about them cooking through. Cooking vegetables like onions and mushrooms will also get rid of any excess moisture and condenses them so that they take up less room.

  • 1 lb ground chuck
  • Salt and pepper

Possible fillings:

  • Babybel cheese, unwrapped
  • Carmelized onions
  • Sauteed mushrooms
  • Thinly-sliced or grated aged cheddar or gouda
  • ​Sundried tomatoes
  • Minced jalapenos
  • Cooked, crumbled bacon
  • Boursin cheese

On a cutting board, divide the meat into four pieces. Shape each into a very thing patty and sprinkle them all with salt and pepper. Pile your choice of fillings in the middle, leaving about half an inch around the edge, and top with a second patty. Pinch all around the edges to seal.

Alternatively, take a handful of ground meat and shape it around an unwrapped Babybel cheese, sealing around the edges and shaping it into a patty.

On a preheated grill or in a hot cast iron skillet, cook for about five minutes per side.Start with a hot pan then turn it down to medium and cover to help them cook all the way through. To be sure, the internal temperature should read 160 F or 71 C.

Serve on soft buns with your choice of condiments. Makes two burgers but recipe is easily doubled or scaled down for smaller burgers.

About the Author

Julie Van Rosendaal

Calgary Eyeopener's food guide

Julie Van Rosendaal talks about food trends, recipes and cooking tips on the Calgary Eyeopener every Tuesday at 8:20 a.m. MT. The best-selling cookbook author is a contributing food editor for the Globe and Mail, and writes for other publications across Canada.


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