Kraft on Craft
A better-burger joint finds inspiration with Kraft.
The WORKS Gourmet Burger Bistro started out as a 20-seat restaurant in Ottawa in 2001. Now, there are 21 units in Canada with an impressive growth plan in motion. Certainly, the better-burger category has exploded over the last few years. What sets this category apart is quality of ingredients, cooking method and variety of ingredients. "There's been a shift in consumer dining trends with a focus on 'back to basics' menus, value and convenience," says Chris Doepner, R&D manager for this Oakville, Ontario-based micro-chain. "The gourmet-burger category delivers on all of those points."
For The WORKS, that better-burger experience is expressed through hand-pressed fresh Canadian beef, fire grilling and a jaw-dropping ingredient list of bold, eclectic burger builds. "Outrageous toppings bring customers in and make them remember us, for sure, but at our base, we start with a really great burger," says Doepner. As example, The Sweet Ride sees a burger topped with caramelized onions, ripe pear and Brie. Or take the Sexy Burger, with pineapple, housemade sweet and spicy sauce, Philadelphia Cream Cheese and hot peppers. "You've got lots going on there, and the Philly brings it all together really nicely."
Open 11AM to 10PM
72 burger topping combinations + 6 patty choices = 432 burger choices
The Hold the Phone burger at The WORKS caught our attention: the burger is topped with peanut butter, Philadelphia Cream Cheese and Monterey Jack. After cooking until the toppings melt together, it's placed on a grilled bun with lettuce. "The peanut butter alone here wouldn't work. The cream cheese gives it an awesome texture and just melts in your mouth. It's all about the mouthfeel with this burger," says Doepner. "This is one of those burgers that's a niche product, but the people who brave it, love it."
Out of 72 burgers, the San Francisco Treat rates among the top 20. A menu original, it features a burger topped with Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and Canadian Cheddar. "Kids and college students love this burger," says Doepner. "The brand name has serious pull with this one."
"Choosing the right ground beef and cooking it on a fire grill is the easiest way to create the best burger possible," says Doepner. "Many chefs claim that a high fat content is the best way to increase the moisture and flavour of the end product. This is true, but working on a fire grill has limitations. High fat content (15% +) will create flaring while working over an open flame. This will cause your delicious patty to taste more like carbon than the wonderful flavour of fresh seasoned beef."
- Choose fresh ground beef over frozen.
- For fire grilling, look for a fat content of 14%, or medium ground beef.
- Go with ground chuck for optimal flavour and texture.
If you were sent to a desert island, what 3 ingredients would you take with you?
I love cooking fresh, seasonal stuff so I think I'd like being on an island. I'd take with me smoked paprika, chipotle and lime.
What's your favourite kitchen tool?
The charcoal grill. It adds so much to a dish with its depth of flavour and smokiness. It also adds to the experience—something coming off the charcoal grill is special.
Whom would you most like to cook for?
I really like Chef Michael Smith. My personal goal is to try to be like him. On the other hand, I would love to cook for the "Top Chef" judges on the Food Network.
What is your favourite Kraft product?
Kraft Dinner. I can't get enough of it.
What's the most underrated ingredient?
Salt. It brings out flavour, it brings food to life.