By Caitlyn Robison
MONTREAL — In honour of its milestone 10th anniversary, Le Burger Week returns this year with not just one, but two weeks of festivities, from Sept. 1 to 14, 2021.
This fall, restaurants across the nation will serve their limited-edition Le Burger Week creations and customers can vote for their favourite burgers at leburgerweek.com.
“Every year, we have restaurateurs and burger fans saying they want more time to share and discover more burgers,” says Na’eem Adam, co-founder of Le Burger Week. “Our concept is clearly a “week” but being our 10th year in operation, we wanted to offer something that mattered to our community — and that’s more time and more burgers.”
“When you have hundreds of restaurants participating in the province/city, you have a lot more people who are trying to go,” adds Adam. “With reservations now required at restaurants, it’s a lot harder for people to get around. We’re spreading the love.”
What began in 2012 as a heated debate between a blogger and a lawyer over the best burger in Montreal has grown to become the largest burger festival ever held in Canada, with more than 1,000 restaurants participating in its 10th-anniversary celebration.
In addition to finding the best burger across Canada, Le Burger Week’s mission has always been to support local restaurant communities by increasing their sales and awareness through festival participation.
“In 2012, we launched with 30 restaurants in Montreal and were ecstatic with the response,” says Adam. “Word about the success of the festival started to travel and next thing you know, we’re hosting our festival across Canada at more than 1,000 restaurants.”
Le Burger Week acknowledges its loyal partners that believe and support the Le Burger Week mission. “Our festivals are not nearly as possible nor complete without our sponsors,” says Adam. “To join one of our festivals eight years ago was over $500 per restaurant. Our mission has always been how do we get that $500 to $0; how do we not charge restaurants; how do we select restaurants based on the quality of their burger; and how do we continue to grow as a festival. Our partners have made that possible. DoorDash with its delivery platform, Sysco offering ingredients and food distribution to restaurants across the country and Saputo offering the best cheese in Canada to restaurants all over the nation. Those three came in and helped to reduce that price to almost $0 for restaurants who want to be a part of it, can’t afford it, but need it and help run our festival by being our sponsor.”
This year, Burger Week will again be supporting Anorexia and Bulimia Québec (ANEB), a Quebec-based organization that aims to fight and de-stigmatize eating disorders and, United Way Canada, a national non-profit organization that works to raise funds and invest in improving lives in local communities. Through Le Burger Week, a percentage of every burger sold at a participating restaurant will be donated back to these organizations. Mover Tech, which hosts Le Burger Week, La Poutine Week and La Pizza Week, has raised more than $350,000 over the years to different charities through their restaurant partnerships.
In addition, the festival will launch 1,000 unique NFT collectibles designed by a local artist that represent the joy of eating phenomenal burgers. Proceeds of these sales will go to charity.
Taking on the role of customer service this year, Na’eem Adam had the opportunity to communicate directly with restaurants who are passionate about the festival and listen to their stories that have contributed to their burger creations.
“Running a restaurant is a complete passion-based industry,” explains Adam. “Nobody goes into the industry to become a millionaire, to become famous or to show off. You have a passion to make something incredible, share it with the community around you and see the joy. I’ve had chefs just stare at me while I’ve taken a bite out of their burger and that alone has made their day. It’s not me, it’s any customer that comes in. To be able to see that come through and then collectively put it altogether through a festival like ours is extremely rewarding.”