Burger Wars is back!

Tasty Cam­paign for Kids fundraiser from Wind­sor to Bridgetown

Annapolis Valley Register - - FRONT PAGE - BY LAWRENCE POWELL

Burger Wars is back and the fundraiser for Cam­paign for Kids is big­ger and bet­ter than ever with al­most 40 restau­rants, pubs, and tap­rooms in three coun­ties vy­ing for brag­ging rights at the end of the month-long, mouth-wa­ter­ing com­pe­ti­tion.

Or­ga­nizer Laura Churchill-duke got an early in­di­ca­tion of the scrump­tious­ness of this year’s en­tries when she helped judge at the Capi­tol Pub ‘pre­war’ com­pe­ti­tion Feb. 26 when four chefs at the Mid­dle­ton es­tab­lish­ment served up their own spe­cial cre­ations to see which one would en­ter the ac­tual Burger Wars in April.

“This was an awe­some op­por­tu­nity tonight to come in here to the Capi­tol Pub and be part of the judg­ing panel,” said Churchill-duke. “It’s my first year be­ing part of that and it’s just a re­ally fun kick-start to the Burger Wars cam­paign. It’s so gen­er­ous of John (Bartlett) and the staff to let us come in and do this. It’s such a fun thing.”

Four ta­bles of cus­tomers judged the pre­war event with Chef Michelle Friel’s ‘Capi­tol Dou­ble Down’ even­tu­ally win­ning, but not be­fore judges had to break a tie with Chef Bartlett’s in­ge­nious ‘Up in Smoke’ brisket burger. Nancy Landry of­fered her tasty ‘Cheese-beer Burger’ and Cody Tay­lor was in the con­test with his ‘Ba­con War­rior.’

Few peo­ple would turn down the op­por­tu­nity to help judge a burger com­pe­ti­tion, but faced with the meld­ing of flavours, the pi­quancy of pep­pers, and sea­son­ing nu­ances, it can be a tough job.

“It was a re­ally hard choice to pick be­tween the dif­fer­ent burg­ers be­cause they’re all com­pletely unique, and creative,” Churchill-duke said min­utes af­ter the judg­ing was over. “And you know that the chef has put a lot of time and thought into cre­at­ing that burger too. So it’s a re­ally hard de­ci­sion and it came down to two burg­ers at the end – be­tween the ‘Dou­ble Down’ and ‘Up In Smoke’ brisket. All com­pletely dif­fer­ent flavours and both very good. If you asked us in an­other 10 min­utes from now we may have cho­sen some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent.”

Even though the ac­tual Burger Wars com­pe­ti­tion was still a few weeks away, that night at the Capi­tol was an op­por­tu­nity to get the word out and get peo­ple hyped to take part once April rolls around.

“This year for Burger Wars we have 38 restau­rants en­tered into it, so it goes from Wind­sor and Hantsport down to Bridgetown this year,” she said. “We had 29 restau­rants last year, and the first year I think we had 23. So it’s just been grow­ing ev­ery year and ex­pand­ing through­out the Val­ley, just get­ting wider and wider. It’s just fan­tas­tic.”

How It Works

For ev­ery burger that is sold dur­ing Burger Wars, one dol­lar comes back to Cam­paign for Kids, a non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that raises money for fi­nan­cially dis­ad­van­taged chil­dren in Kings County.

Burger lovers can go on­line and vote for the Most Out­stand­ing Burger start­ing April 1 with the win­ner be­ing an­nounced at the end of the com­pe­ti­tion.

“We used that money last year to buy win­ter coats and boots for seven chil­dren in ev­ery school in Kings County,” Churchill­duke said. “We use it some­times to send kids in fi­nan­cial need to spe­cial camps in the sum­mer. We use it for schol­ar­ships and bur­saries, emer­gency fund­ing for medicine or help­ing peo­ple with their pro­gram­ming costs. It helps a wide ar­ray of stu­dents.”

She en­cour­ages peo­ple to get out and try the burg­ers and help kids at the same time 30 days to try 38 burg­ers. She doesn’t ex­pect any­one to do it all, but you can keep track this year.

“This year what we’re go­ing to be do­ing dif­fer­ently is we’re go­ing to have a burger pass­port,” she said. “So you can down­load that and print it off and go to the restau­rants with your pass­port and ev­ery dif­fer­ent restau­rant you go to you’ll get a stamp or sig­na­ture and then for ev­ery five dif­fer­ent restau­rants you visit you’ll get a bal­lot that will put your name into a hat for a grand prize draw at the end of the month. We’re still wait­ing on de­tails – con­for­ma­tion of what that grand prize is – but it’s go­ing to be a re­ally nice prize.”

Third Year

The Capi­tol Pub’s owner John Bartlett has been do­ing Burger Wars from the start.

“We’re in it be­cause we’re a com­mu­nity ori­ent pub. We love to sup­port the com­mu­nity and we love to sup­port kids,” he said. “That’s re­ally what it comes down to. We’re in it for that. We’re in it to help. We’re in it to do what we can.”

The burger judg­ing night Feb. 26 is be­com­ing a tra­di­tion at the Capi­tol.

“Burger Wars pre-wars is just our way of hav­ing a lit­tle bit of fun,” he said. “It’s our way of get­ting maybe a bit of the mes­sage out. And quite hon­estly it’s our way of chal­leng­ing other restau­rants to do some­thing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent. Let’s not just do the same thing over and over again. Let’s make it a lit­tle fun. Let’s get some ac­tion go­ing.”

Bartlett be­lieves the lit­tle pre­war at The Capi­tol makes for a bet­ter prod­uct.

“We could have cho­sen a burger, we could have picked a burger, but the way we do it now is we get four peo­ple with their heads to­gether and think­ing about what they want to do for a burger,” he said. “I think we bring as good or bet­ter prod­uct to the ta­ble be­cause col­lec­tively we’ve all put some­thing out there. We put our best prod­uct out there and some­body else has picked it for us. The burger lovers win.”

The Com­pe­ti­tion

While Bartlett and his staff were cook­ing up their even­tual pre­war win­ner, Sue Wam­boldt a kilo­me­tre away at The Big Scoop Fam­ily Restau­rant, had just made the en­try dead­line as well with their new burger dubbed ‘The Radish Ring’ that will de­fend the 2017 Burger Wars ti­tle they won last year.

“We’re hon­oured to de­fend our ti­tle this year and I’m so pleased to see the huge growth in this fundrais­ing cam­paign,” Wam­boldt said. “In the end it’s all about help­ing the kids and giv­ing back to the com­mu­nity. We look for­ward to the friendly com­pe­ti­tion and are ex­cited to see our com­peti­tors’ en­tries as much as ev­ery­one else.”

Heather Keddy at Way­far­ers’ Ale So­ci­ety in Port Williams has a unique ‘burger’ cre­ation ready for the April 1 start date – a pulled pork slider.

In fact, three mini pulled pork slid­ers with their hand­crafted mus­tard and hop sauce topped with a tangy coleslaw and served with local cheese from Fox Hill Cheese House - fenu­greek havarti, jalapeno gouda, Ital­ian herb Havarti. “So there’s some­thing for ev­ery­one. A bit of a kick or a mild cheese,” said Keddy, Way­far­ers’ tap­room and events man­ager.

“I’m so look­ing for­ward to this. I think it’s a great cause,” said Keddy. “What­ever we can do to help out is what we want to do.”

While the Port Williams brew­ery is not yet two years old, they’re al­ready be­com­ing known as a com­mu­nity-ori­ented busi­ness that in the past has helped out a local home­less shel­ter. They’re open ev­ery day but Sun­day.


Burger Wars is de­signed so each restau­rant, bistro, pub, or tap­room en­try is an af­ford­able meal and will be in­cluded in that es­tab­lish­ment’s menu.

Last year 8,141 burg­ers were sold dur­ing the com­pe­ti­tion, with a to­tal of $8,661 raised for Cam­paign for Kids. Who ac­tu­ally sold the most burg­ers last year? The Port Pub in Port Williams.

Cam­paign for Kids, es­tab­lished by Fam­ily and Chil­dren’s Ser­vices of Kings County, was cre­ated to ad­dress the over­whelm­ing num­ber of re­quests for as­sis­tance from fam­i­lies in cri­sis. Its aim is to lend a hand to fam­i­lies in need and put an end to child abuse.

If you want to get a good sense of the breadth of the com­pe­ti­tion and the es­tab­lish­ments en­tered in the third an­nual event, go to www.cam­paign­forkids.com/burg­er­wars


Michelle Friel, chef and kitchen man­ager at the Capi­tol Pub, shows off her ‘Capi­tol Dou­ble Down’ cre­ation that will be the Mid­dle­ton pub’s en­try in the third an­nual Burger Wars, a fundraiser for Cam­paign for Kids. This year 38 restau­rants, pubs, and tap­rooms in the An­napo­lis Val­ley have en­tered the com­pe­ti­tion.


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