He’s made burgers out of crocodile, python, kangaroo and camel, but this year Brian Jones wanted to do something even bigger for the Pacific National Exhibition.
The Hercules Burger — featuring a whopping 10 pound beef patty — is one of the largest creations the Brookswood resident has ever served at his concession stand, Gourmet Burgers.
Made of fresh meat delivered daily from Langley’s Ennis Farms Meats, the concoction takes an hour to cook, and will set hungry fairgoers back $70, which, Jones says, barely covers the cost of making it.
“I was looking for something that was over the top — for me that’s what it’s all about,” said Jones, whose family-run business B&B Concessions will have three of their five concession stands operating at the 15-day Vancouver fair.
“The PNE for me is my chance to be creative, and I try to come up with something different every year for people’s experiences.”
Since 2001, Jones and his family have been serving concession meals at events across the country, from the Calgary Stampede, to concerts and film sets, winning many awards in the process.
Recently, Jones won the Best Between Buns Award at the Calgary Stampede for his favourite burger, the “crazy monkey,” which features an eight ounce patty, with peanut butter, fried bananas, ham and bacon. He also won another award for “the vortex,” made with an eight ounce sirloin beef patty, four slices of American cheese, two fried eggs, five strips of bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayo between two grilled cheese sandwiches.
But the PNE is where Jones always strives to up the ante.
“The PNE is what we plan and gear up for every year, it’s definitely our biggest event, he said.
“We do all of our — let’s call it novelty food — at the PNE as well.”
For Jones, who is a kinesiologist by trade, and runs his own practice in Langley when he’s not grilling, it’s a bit of a trial and error process to come up with innovative burgers. While brainstorming a new concept for this year’s fair, Mark from Ennis Farms Meats suggested Jones try a five pound burger. But “five pounds isn’t big enough. For me it had to be so ridiculous that it was fun,” he laughed.
Instead, he bought a 10 pound patty. When his 10-year-old daughter, Emerson (pictured left), saw him cooking the creation at home, “she came around the corner and I think her eyes were as big as the burger.”
Jones doesn’t know how many people will be brave enough to actually order The Hercules, but those who are interested should note it will only be served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
And if you think you can tackle the burger beast alone, “I absolutely doubt that,” Jones said.
“I do colossal burgers, and they are eight ounces, which is half a pound. Ten pounds, I mean, even if you had 10 people, that’s a pound each. There’s no way any one person could eat that, but I’m open to a challenge if anyone wants to prove me wrong.”
For those who can feel their pants getting tighter just looking at the burger, Jones is also offering some healthier options to try.
At another of his concession stands, Gourmet Salads, the Jones family will be serving artisan salads made with locally grown produce.
The PNE is the debut for this new stand, which features a menu crafted by Jones and three local chefs.
“There’s nobody else doing anything like this at the PNE,” Jones said.
“When you typically think of fair food, it’s the food that I, and others, have done in the past. But I also wanted to hit that niche market of people who want something healthy. I’ve spent months putting the menu together for this. This is my biggest challenge ever.”
The Fair at the PNE is running Aug. 20 to Sept. 5 at Hastings Park in Vancouver.