Grilled: Donald Kennedy of Victoria Burger Blog


Burger-centric interviews with chefs, writers, and other food lovers.

Note: This week we're grilling Donald Kennedy of Victoria Burger Blog, your headquarters for all things burger-related in and around Victoria.

20090709-donald.jpgName: Donald Kennedy
Location: Victoria, BC Canada
Occupation: Recently finished a job as a morning newsreader for CKMO Radio in Victoria: unemployed and job-hunting now.

How often do you eat burgers? About one or two a week when I'm at home--closer to around five a week if I'm on vacation in the states.

Where did you eat your most recent one? Cooked a decent patty over an open fire while camping at Goldstream park over the weekend. Before that I had a slightly gelatinous patty at Gathering Place Cafe in Victoria. Gathering Place is possibly the only convenience store/cafeteria in Victoria.

Cheese: American, cheddar, other? American if it's a smaller, greasier patty. Bleu, or maybe a cheddar/swiss blend if it's a bigger patty.

Ketchup or mustard? Mustard and onions should be the mandated condiment/topping mix for any ballpark or backyard burger. Somehow that mix can really bring out the best in a nice lower-price-point burger.

Sesame-seed or plain? Plain, white, and squishy usually does it for me.

Grilled, griddled, or broiled? Grilled—I love tasting a little char sometimes.

And how would you like that done, sir? If you're ordering a burger in Canada, by default it will come to you well, or medium well. When your average Canadian sees pink in a burger he/she generally spirals into an E. coli-based fear maelstrom and ends up cursing the cook to everyone in a 20-mile radius. My sister, who sometimes writes for my blog, won't even touch a patty that isn't brown all the way through. I generally like my burgers done medium or medium well.

Would you do us the favor of describing your perfect burger? This is such a tough question because I think any number of different combinations could yield a near perfect burger. I will say the best burger I've ever had is at Stanich's in Portland. It's a ground chuck patty topped with thick cut ham, fried egg, bacon, American (or maybe it was cheddar) cheese and a great house sauce. It's just a flat-out greasy, gooey bit of paradise.

The hamburger is a food item with which most Americans have strong childhood associations. Do you remember your earliest encounter with this delicious dish? My uncle used to own a house in Pender Harbour when I was probably about five years old. My family would make trips out there pretty often, and my dad would always insist that we make a trip to Frances Burger Stand (I might be spelling Frances wrong, but I'm sure that was the name of it). My father always touted that burger as the best in the world, and I'm sure I believed him. I think the burger-stand is still there (in a field across the street from a grocery store), but it no longer bares the Frances name. I also remember my dad taking me and my sister to lunch at the A&W drive-in pretty much every week when I was in elementary school.

What's your favorite fast-food burger? The Wendy's Baconator is probably the best fast-food option in Victoria. Overall my favorite fast-food place is probably Dick's Drive-In in Seattle because it's one of the few places in the world where you can still get a burger, fries, and a shake for five bucks (also I like loitering around and eating in parking lots for some reason).

What topping or condiment, in your opinion, should never grace a burger? BBQ sauce really has no place on a burger. You might brush some on a patty if you're actually cooking on your backyard BBQ, but putting a big dollop on there is insane. There are a number of places in Victoria that use a BBQ sauce/Chipotle mayo condiment mix on their burgers, and it almost never works out. BBQ sauce is just too sweet and bold to mingle effectively with a normal burger.

What's the most unusual burger you've ever eaten? My friend Guy made a burger binded with Shake and Bake once because he'd ran out of bread crumbs. I've made mini burgers with bleu cheese and nutburger spread (based on the spread I imagine is served at Matt's Place in Montana), but that's about as unusual as I've got. I love peanut butter burgers, but I'm not sure those are really all that strange.

What's the most overrated burger you've tried? Most underrated? I like White Spot Triple-O Burgers, but I still think they are grossly over-rated (considering there are so many better burgers available in Victoria and Vancouver). As far as underrated burgers go: Hungry Herby's in Cache Creek is a bit of a hidden gem, Jigger's Grill in Campbell River is great. I also really like Zesto's in Seattle, and I can't understand why it keeps getting overlooked in "Best of the City" polls.

For some crazy reason, you're going vegetarian. Where do you go for your final burger? Stanich's in Portland.