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STRATFORD, P.E.I. — As many Island restaurants put the finishing touches on this year’s Burger Love creations, Mikey Wasnidge and the crew at Nimrods’ are doing the same to a whole new restaurant.
This is the 10th year for Burger Love, the annual competition to determine the Island's best burger. An April promotion the last nine years, Burger Love was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. This year it starts Sept. 1 and runs until Oct. 15, two weeks longer than usual.
Participating restaurants vie for the crown by creating delicious and sometimes outrageous burgers, with the winner determined by fans voting.
Originally, the Nimrods’ team was going to cook up their Burger Love creation at the Charlottetown Curling Complex, where they do prep for their current spot on the floating food court at Peakes Quay in Charlottetown. After the contest was postponed, Wasnidge knew they needed another location.
The former KFC location in Stratford will be appropriately named Nimrods’ Burger Blitz and the team has been busy turning the former fried chicken eatery into a drive-thru burger joint in just a few weeks.
“We knew we didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to be involved because of the success of year one and so we just had to come up with a better solution.”
Ahead of last year’s contest, the Nimrods’ team converted a food-truck into a burger-slinging machine on wheels in 25 days. The success of that venture allowed he and his partner to open their Peakes Quay location, said Wasnidge.
“Nimrods’ wouldn’t exist today as it is without the success of Burger Love.”
Though it will still take a lot of work before it’s done, Wasnidge is confident he and the team will pull it off.
“I think we’re better prepared than we were last year. Our ability to work together and solve problems is better than ever.”
The burger to beat
Last year’s Burger Love winner was the Bourbon Street burger from Phinley’s Diner in Stratford. The chef who led that team, Jason Horton, has since opened a restaurant in downtown Charlottetown, AJ’s Kitchen & Catering, with Amy Beaton.
Having the pressure of last year’s win meant Horton started planning this year’s burger in November, he said.
“When you make something so good as the Bourbon burger, it’s really hard to come up with something you really want to beat it. This year I went simplicity and beefy.”
Since Horton already has a win under his belt, he's taking a backseat to AJ’s head chef Mike Drew.
While it’s not Drew's first Burger Love, it is his first as a head chef and he’s confident in what AJ’s has come up with, he said.
“We put a lot of love and care into it. We’ve had a really, really busy summer since I came on board and we got a lot of feedback from everybody about what they want.”
Horton remains tight-lipped about what AJ’s burger will be but was willing to part with a small clue.
“If people like protein, they’ll like this burger.”
Drew wasn’t willing to say much more.
“A lot of it is built off our best-selling foods.”