The first round of the Burger Brawl starts this month and it’s far from your usual culinary event. As a matter of fact, this may be one of the coolest food experiences that Toronto has to offer. Imagine two top local chefs closing a restaurant after hours, gathering a crowd of viewers, and going head-to-head to deliver the best burger that a basket of mystery ingredients has to offer. The first instalment of the monthly Chopped Canada meets Fight Club affair will take place on Wednesday, April 15, at The Good Son Restaurant (1096 Queen Street West). Doors will open at 11pm. No typo there; the burger brawl will actually start at midnight. Even if you have an 8am meeting the next day, you should consider intravenous caffeine therapy before you think of missing this event.
“The whole idea of this event is to bring the community together around the food culture in Toronto, and also bring local farms and suppliers helping them promote their restaurants as well as their view as a chef,” says O’Callaghan.
The open-concept kitchen of the restaurant will be set up for premium viewership as Chef Vittorio Colacitti of The Good Son and Chef Matt Basile of Lisa Marie battle it out. Each burger will be critically analyzed, scrutinized, and torn apart by a panel of expert judges. At the end of the night, one chef will be crowned the coveted king of the Burger Brawl, and have bragging rights for eternity. Chef Jonathan O’Callaghan and Dan Gunam (the guy who brought you the In-N-Out Burger pop-up last TIFF) are the brains behind the monthly brawl and will play a dual role as ring leader and burger judge. “The whole idea of this event is to bring the community together around the food culture in Toronto, and also bring local farms and suppliers helping them promote their restaurants as well as their view as a chef,” says O’Callaghan.
The concept stems from “underground food wars” but for burgers only. Starting at midnight, it’s a great opportunity for industry folk to come after their shifts and cheer on their fellow chefs. That said, if you don’t work in the restaurant biz, no one should be intimidated by the event – especially the many burger lovers in Toronto. Don’t expect a cocktail hour followed by dry conversation about golf, but rather an open and fun environment that brings the entire food community together. “Everyone from every community can come and hangout because we are talking about a burger. It’s not about targeting one crowd or type of person, because that is the wrong step in building a community. I don’t want anyone to think they cannot come and hang,” says O’Callaghan.
The vision for this event is to be wide-spanned and not stop at round one. Since there are a lot of great chefs in Toronto, O’Callaghan has already planned face-offs between other heavy hitter chefs as well as home chefs who claim they make a mean burger. Also on the horizon is Toronto chefs competing against cooks from other big cities, including New York. Given the support from the chef goods company Tilit, one of the event’s main sponsors, there is a strong likelihood of this happening.
There are a lot of restaurants all over Canada that create beautiful food. Canadians are not pretentious about food; we’re just nice people who enjoy good food.”
Having a Canadian chef battle against a New York Michelin-starred chef would mean a lot to the Canadian food culture. Since our food is viewed outside of Canada as a mix of maple syrup and poutine, bringing awareness around all the other great dishes we have is important to Chef O’Callaghan: “There are a lot of restaurants all over Canada that create beautiful food. Canadians are not pretentious about food; we’re just nice people who enjoy good food.”
So, mark your calendars burger lovers – April 15 will be epic and you don’t want to miss the first Burger Brawl. Be part of the Toronto food revolution! Get your tickets here.
Who do you think has the best burgers in Toronto? Let Vv Magazine in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.