Running from Sept. 1 to 14, the 11th annual Le Burger Week is back with a plant-based twist. For the first time in its history, Le Burger Week is encouraging restaurateurs to try their hand with plant-based patties.
Many of the 400 Canadian restaurants competing in the two-week event started preparing their entries months in advance. Jessica Wylychenko, the co-owner and operator of Hudson Bagels, says preparation for Le Burger Week begins by soliciting her team for ideas.
“(We asked) everyone what they would like to see for Burger Week. How do we do something different and unique this year? Then we test out a couple of ideas. Once we get our actual burger, we start to tweak the recipe. We source all of our products while working out the finer details,” Wylychenko says.
Wylychenko and co-owner Chris Silva opened the doors to their restaurant in November 2020. They first participated in Le Burger Week last year with a desire to transform an ordinary breakfast item into something more.
“We thought, ‘We love burgers. What would make it better than being on a freshly baked bagel?” Wylychenko says.
But it’s not just restaurants who’ve been preparing for months. Le Burger Week’s Manitoba ambassador, Daniel Gurevich, says the team starts planning for the event from late April to early May. The team also plans the annual La Poutine Week and La Pizza Week.
“Realistically, the process never stops all that much, given the multiple events throughout the year. We’ve got website development, making sure that we’re dealing with our partners and sponsors, making sure that we’re getting our restaurants signed up, marketing, and much more,” Gurevich says. “It’s an all-year-round (preparation) for us.”
Despite this year’s plant-based theme, Gurevich says not all entries are meat-free.
“The plant-based theme is just that ... a theme. We needed to find new ways to engage our restaurants and engage our customers ... (and) to grow with what’s happening in our world. The plant-based edition just felt right for the times,” he says.
Although plant-based patties are being shown some appreciation this year, Gurevich says not everyone is going to be happy about it, which is completely fine.
“I’ve seen everything from mild comments to absolute hatred towards (this year’s plant-based edition) online, but that’s to be expected ... We’re not looking to alienate anybody. We just hope that people can keep an open mind,” he says.
According to Gurevich, there are a total of 243 restaurants participating in this year’s Le Burger Week in Manitoba. That’s a whopping 47 per cent of the total restaurants participating nationwide.
Le Burger Week is completed by selecting a number of winners throughout the country. However, Gurevich says, it’s all just a friendly competition.
In order to determine a winner, Le Burger Week uses a public voting system, as well as designated judges throughout each province.
“Truly, the people that win this event are the ones who get to have a fun time and get the opportunity to challenge their restaurant and their staff. We just want to create another way to try and engage people and have them participate in the festival. We try not to put too much emphasis on the ‘winner’ side of things,” Gurevich says.
For more information and to cast your vote, visit leburgerweek.com.
Published in Volume 77, Number 01 of The Uniter (September 8, 2022)