THUNDER BAY -- Current River has a new favourite burger shop - Beefcake’s Burger Factory, started by chef Derek Lankinen.
Lankinen has over two decades of experience in the kitchen, having started as an apprentice at the Airline. He has worked as executive sous chef at the Norwester, cooked for thousands of people at Musselwhite mine and in camp kitchens in Saskatchewan before coming home to Thunder Bay.
Beefcake’s opened on June 1, 2019 in the location previously occupied by Signature Steer, which went out of business last year. “It’s been amazing so far,” the chef says. “I love this city, because if you’re a good guy who works hard, if you’re doing good work, they will come and support you.”
Lankinen describes his restaurant as a “throwback burger shop with accentuation on new flavours that are more cutting edge.” He sears the burgers at a very high temperature, which is something that most people don’t or can’t do at home. “It is a messy process. You have to clean the grill three, four times a day. When you bite into one of Beefcake’s burgers, the beef actually crunches. It has texture. At other places, they can be soft. That doesn’t happen here,” he explains.
“We combine super cool flavours, and it’s not just about flavours, it’s about textures as well. So when you bite into a Beefcake’s burger, you have crunchy beef, crunchy vegetables, you have soft vegetables, you have a soft bun that has a nice toast on it, so you have different dimensions of everything. Multi-layered flavours are something that we really believe in.”
Many of their ingredients are locally sourced, with potatoes coming from B&B farms. Lankinen aims to use mostly local beef in 2020, and there is a lot more he wants to do in the future. “But we want to make sure we’re stable and we’re walking before we’re starting to run. I want to have a great burger shop that makes people happy,” he says.
“I love that I can be that neighbourhood diner-esque burger shop,” says Lankinen. “I love Current River, I love the fact that this has a regional neighbourhood feel, there are regulars that show up three or four times a week, and I love having that relationship with my customers. Each community has its own little feel; there’s community pride.”
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