Quadrants is a HAWK project aimed at exploring stories from four unique angles; Community, Connection, Presence & Meaning. In collaboration with key members of the Calgary community, HAWK observes, documents and engages in events and stories from in and around the city. A sort of expose, Quadrants seeks to make connections in and around the underground. 

Flavour is Secondary

The Ultimate Local Burger Experience

By Alyssa Kelle

Boogies’ Burgers is a burger joint with nothing to prove. Tucked away in an unassuming little plaza off Edmonton Trail NE, this place might be one of Calgary’s best kept secrets. Or is it? At the dawn of 2016, Boogies’ Burgers took first place in a community’s quest for the ultimate local burger experience - a title certainly not distributed lightly.

Yas Queen - The Boog-Mak at Boogies' Burgers in Crescent Heights takes the proverbial cake.

Yas Queen - The Boog-Mak at Boogies' Burgers in Crescent Heights takes the proverbial cake.

In the fall of 2015, a prominent member of the local arts community put the call out for Calgarians to rank their top-three favourite take-out burger joints. The response was overwhelming, and before long the list was narrowed down to eight establishments. 

On the surface, the burger may seem like little more than meat (or meat-alternative) between two pieces of bread. In reality, burgers are intricately linked to themes of social design.

A signifier of all things Americana, the burger is at the heart of modern globalization. Burgers are available pretty much everywhere, at pretty much all hours of the day, and for an incredibly low-price. They’re a standard on nearly every menu, available at nearly all major sporting events, and at the heart of BBQs everywhere. With countless toppings and condiments available, there’s no limits to the burger. And they go great with other favourites like fries, pickles and beer. 

We’ve been coming together to eat burgers for a while now - it’s a thing.

What’s significant about this experiment however is not which burger won, but why that burger won. In several cases throughout the competition, satisfaction with the ambiance proved to be more important than flavour – illustrating the importance in the user experience across all industries.

What began as a quest for the ultimate burger became the quest for the ultimate experience.

The Competition - Jughead Jones takes on Randy Lahey

The competition proceeded tournament style, with the eight front runners faced off over three rounds. It took 111 tastings over three months to finally crown the reigning champ – Yas Queen. 

With the tournament schedule made public through social media, the competition remained open. Any and all people were invited to partake in the judging process – which stretched over the course of three months (Sep 2015 - Jan 2016).

Kicking-off at the Ship & Anchor on September 27, 2015, delegates came together at each burger joint to indulge in a meal and to score their experience on a scale of 1-10 across three categories: value, flavour and ambiance. 

Interestingly, the scoring rubric used is entirely subjective – lacking any potential hard-data such as number of toppings, patty size, calories and so on. Each of the three categories are weighted equally – adding up to a total score out of 30 possible points. 

Each establishment showed its own strength in the competition - in round one, 5 Guys and Clive Burger were appreciated for their flavour, while Flippin’ Burgers was said to have the best value. What pushed Boogies’ and Dairy Lane into the semi-finals however was their hefty ambiance score. 

In round two, delegates returned to the table to determine conference champs. Once again, Boogies’ took the lead despite the fact that Naina’s Kitchen promises greater flavour. In a face-off between Burger 320 and Dairy Lane, 320 moved onto the final round. 

The final match-up illustrates the importance of the user experience – with Boogies’ Burgers earning the top-spot once again due to a winning ambiance. If it’s the best-tasting burger you’re after, pay the folks at Burger 320 in Kensington a visit. Otherwise, take in all the experience Boogies’ has to offer.

The Maniac Behind the Mission - Montana Kane

Montana Kane, a member of Blank Page Studio in Calgary and a prominent member of the local folk-music scene has built an alternative career in social experiments and alternative types of media. Dedicated to engaging in a broad audience through Calgary’s communities, Montana’s work focuses on generating dialogue about and promoting active participation in the City’s cultural sphere. His efforts, along with his colleagues, seek to promote innovative practices and ideas in the context of art, architecture and design. The quest for the Ultimate Burger Experience was just a side-project.

“Humans are incredibly engaged in this kind of system and (almost hilariously so) become free-flowing with opinions,” says Montana, stating the competition has collected an outstanding variety of feedback surrounding both the burgers and the establishments themselves – which brings us back to the real point here. In terms of overall satisfaction, the champ was crowned based on ambience over flavour. 

In other words, it isn’t so much what you put on the burger, but what you put into it.