CFL All-Star talks Burgers, Fries & Pasta!
If you love burgers, you’re likely familiar with beloved Lower Mainland hamburger chain, Vera’s Burger Shack, known for their hand-made patties, and all-natural ingredients. What you may not know about this hamburger hot spot, is that it's owned by former CFL all-star Noah Cantor of the Toronto Argonauts! A celebrity athlete with a restaurant chain? This seems to be a growing trend in BC (think of Steve Nash and Kirk McLean). Now what would an all-star football player know about food? Lots of course! Here we reach this football superstar on his cell phone between a busy day of burger-related meetings for the low down on life as a restaurant owner!
BT: First things first! Noah, how did you get into the Hamburger biz after being an CFL all-star?
NC: There are two things that got me involved, really. First, I was really drawn to the food at Vera’s because it’s just really good food with good flavors. Secondly, as a career shift, it was an attractive opportunity for me when I first got involved because I wanted something to do in the off seasons while playing football—and I also wanted something to fall back on after my football career!
BT: Can you tell us what’s the inside story on how Vera’s Burger Shack got started?
NC: Vera’s started in West Van in 1977 as a concession stand on the beach (Vera is the name of the original owner). When I moved to Vancouver 13 years ago I teamed up with my now business partner to run the business and expand the chain.
BT: Did you have any previous experience with food?
NC: Actually, my family is in the wholesale meat business. We have a family butcher shop, and I did work with my family in the plant, before I got into football.
BT: What would you say is Vera’s claim to fame as a fast-food chain?
NC: Vera’s is special because we hand make our patties fresh every day, and spice them ourselves, so they aren’t just plain burgers, they’ve got great flavor. Vera’s is known for being all about really good food.
BT: Can you describe what your average day looks like, as a restaurant owner?
NC: Well, corporately, we have two stores along with 12 franchises in Vancouver. Most of the time I’m at the corporate stores. I handle everything with my business partner, including attending meetings, talking to new franchisees, etc. and of course, testing fries and burgers whenever I’m hungry! It’s pretty rough.
BT: Thanks Noah. On a personal note, what do meals at home with your family typically look like?
NC: I have three kids and we do quite a few weekly traditions. We try to do friends and family night every Friday. We also do bigger family dinners every Sunday—where we’ll make homemade pasta or pizza. In general, I always like to involve the kids as much as possible in the cooking, prepping and of course, they are the clean up crew! My kids really enjoy prepping food. For example, on Sunday, they’ll get involved in things like stirring the pancakes, and my daughter likes to flip her own eggs in the morning. I try to get them to do the little things to be involved in eating on their own. We find involving the kids encourages them to eat healthy, because they realize what goes in to the food we’re eating.
That’s so true. Here we leave you with a personal recipe from Noah Cantor. Homemade pasta and tomato sauce.
Noah Cantor's Homemade Pasta and Tomato Sauce
4 cups all purpose flour
splash of olive oil
Mix ingredients and kneed. Saran wrap and let rest.
Pound it out and start rolling it out. The kids love running it through the pasta machine.
Can of San Marzzano tomatoes
Blend with hand blender.
Dice onion and garlic.
Add olive oil.
Add bay leaves and thyme.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Don’t forget, we’ve launched our Recipe of the Month campaign. If you contribute a recipe to our site HERE, you’ll automatically be entered to win $100 to spend at Cookworks. We’ll announce the winner at the end of the month! Good luck & thanks for your contributions!