An Evening with the Women Redefining Burger Culture
By Anoja Muthucumaru
Photos by Meghan Gribben
Dawna Marie Wright, better known as Ms.D-Madame of The BroadHouse, is the founder and fearless leader of the “BurgerBroads,” a blog and community of female burger aficionados. Before I visited the BurgerBroads blog, I expected to see posts simply about burgers and photographs of burger joints in Toronto, but to my delight I stumbled onto videos of women chowing down and pontificating on juicy burgers. In the videos, the women lovingly discussed the textures and the ingredients of the burgers. The short clips are filmed in a documentary style, showing women loving what they were eating.
All Food Network addicts have seen Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, and wish they were Guy Fieri making-out with those burgers. For me, I had reservations on whether anyone would want to watch me eat. Is it womanly or glamorous to be eating into a camera and loving every moment? Heck yes, according to Wright. Wright and the BurgerBroads are redefining gender expectations about women and food.
During the early days of the blog, Wright discovered that burger blogs “were all run by men,” and were mostly American. “Typically, women write recipes and blog about their cooking, and typically in the U.S men blog about their eating,” says Wright. “While I was researching, to be sure that there wasn’t already an idea out there in the web like what I was doing, I came across many blogs run by men who are eating burgers and blogging about it—it was their business. I wanted to take it beyond the written word and pictures and make it entertaining to watch as well, hence the video showcase/interviews. Instead of reading about it, why not watch real people, real women eat and gush about it?”
In the videos, the Broads are redefining the stereotypical expectations of women and their relationships with food. The Broads are also reclaiming and re-imagining the word “broad”. The term “broad” was used historically as a derogatory slang against women. Wright explained to me “broad” was used as a butcher’s term for a slab of meat with a hole, and it has even been used to refer to prostitutes. To the BurgerBroads, the word has been re-purposed to mean “an Alpha female” who demonstrates “self-directedness, tenacity, charisma, determination” and doesn’t care what people think of her; a broad “doesn’t wait to be asked.” Wright continues, she is “intelligent, well informed, and resourceful. She has honor, integrity, and loyalty and not afraid of the unexpected or unknown. She knows she can handle any situation and fights for what is hers.”
The Burger Ball
The first ever BurgerBroads Burger Ball was hosted at the Burger Stomper Gourmet Burger and Milkshake Bar, located on the Danforth and noteworthy for its owners’ appearance on Dragon’s Den, where they gained investment for the “Burger Stomper” invention. The Burger Ball was the first event hosted by the BurgerBroads. The event means a lot to the Broads because it “is a way of tying it all together; saying thank-you to our fans, saying thank-you to everyone who has been involved in front of the camera and behind the scenes,” explains Wright.
Burger Stomper cleared out their regular seating for a feisty crowd of burger enthusiasts and BurgerBroads. Candles were set along the counter overlooking the kitchen, and live-music from guitar and violin duo Diamond Thread created a cozy atmosphere to eat, drink, and mingle. And of course there were the burgers: from vegetarian burger baskets to a smorgasbord of homemade beef burgers. Burger Stomper donated all of the burgers, freshly pressed with the famous Burger Stomper and topped with an assortment of gourmet condiments like caramelized onions, mushrooms, and Swiss cheese, as well as the traditional tomato and watercress lettuce. The vegetarian burger was also delicious; it was saucy and filled with flavor. The burgers were complemented with a side of homemade onion rings. Steam Whistle donated the beer, completing a perfect night of eating, drinking, conversation and—when nobody was looking—a little dancing.
The night ended with Dana McCauley, a judge on The Food Network’s “Recipe to Riches,” receiving the highest honour the BurgerBroads bestow: “The Honorary BurgerBroad Award.” McCauley won this award for being a “powerhouse of a woman and a great inspiration to other women regardless of age, showing them that with unrelenting passion, fortitude, and vision you can be a leader in whichever field you pursue,” says Wright. At first, McCauley had reservations about accepting the award and being referred to as “broad,” but after learning what the word means to the BurgerBroads, her mind was made-up and she accepted; she was honoured to be called a broad.
So, BurgerBroads and BurgerBros, let us know: what is your favourite burger joint on the east side?