Super smash burgers and the burgeoning local food scene

photo Tara McIntosh

In recent months it has come to my attention that the Tri-Ciites is a gathering place for food aficionados.

Surprised? I was too but only because, at least in my time and mind, the Tri-Cities had been synonymous with chain restaurants.

To my very pleasant surprise, I recently came across Eat Tri-Cities (Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody).


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Marketed as: “Your guide to the best food & drinks, reviews, and deals in the Tri-Cities,” it’s a Facebook page and website ( created by Tina Gohar who, during COVID, documented all the sensational take-out food she discovered during lockdown.

Tina Gohar

“When COVID was here I ordered in a lot and posted pictures of my food. Then with some outside encouragement, started up Eat Tri-Cities and it just grew! I couldn’t believe how many people were responding to it. Everyday I’d wake up and there’d be another 200 followers.”

Today the Eat Tri-Cities Facebook page has 17,000 followers (and counting).

“What I love,” she tells me, “is that Eat Tri-Cities highlights all the hidden gems in the Tri-Cities you’d otherwise never hear about.”

Equally passionate about cooking and all things sumptuous is foodie in Port Moody, Mike Arseneault, who you may recognize as the founder of Port Moody’s Ioco Player’s Theatre troupe. Having travelled the world extensively, Mike decided to move from Oregon – where he’d “curated and hosted over 20 sold out communal long table dining experiences” – and make Port Moody home.

Mike Arseneault.

With the focus on revitalizing PoMo’s art community, Mike is the administrator for the PoMo Foodies Facebook group, “to celebrate great food and culinary arts,” in the City of the Arts.

As a passionate food stylist and photographer, Mike’s daily posts have garnered a loyal following of people who also post pictures and offer recommendations of their favourite restaurants, patios, drinks, and events in Port Moody.

One loyal PoMo Foodies’ follower and Mike’s friend, is former Anmore newspaper editor, Glenna Barron: a passionate cook and baker, who writes articles and contributes recipes for both OutdoorX4 magazine and Overland Journal.

Glenna Barron

Both periodicals are for backcountry explorers and travel enthusiasts who love off-road exploring and gourmet meals in the wilderness. Glenna calls the experience of cooking in the outback “almost transcendent, especially when combined with awe-inspiring views.”

At a recent Overland Rally in Leavenworth, Washington, she taught a gourmet dessert class making a salted butterscotch pecan chocolate crisp (cue the drool).

With a background in biophysics and a passion for food science, Glenna tells me, “That recipe took months to perfect.”

She’s also competed in Overland cooking competitions, three times on three different teams coming in third each time! “Not bad considering the competition is really stiff.” she adds.

Are there any hidden gems she’d like to recommend? “Oh,” she says, “the 8 Corners Tea Room in Belcarra has some of the best baking and pastry I’ve ever had!”

With her culinary credentials, you can believe it.

The thing is, the more diverse a community becomes, the more exciting the food scene is and the Tri- Cities has really grown the last few years.

When you can tuck into traditional Filipino pinoy like pork belly with lechon sauce (my husband’s favourite) at Kulinarya Filipino Eatery, or dive into some mouth- watering gorgonzola schnitzel and cabbage rolls for some Eastern European comfort at Ethno Restaurant Vayat, then enjoy an evening of juicy Brazilian BBQ at Rio Brazilian Steakhouse, staying in the Tri-Cities to eat becomes a global adventure. As well, when you have local adventurers, world travellers and foodies tell you there’s an exciting food scene in the Tri-Cities, you can believe that too.

Tara’s Smash and Squish Burger

For the Burger

1 lb. lean organic hamburger meat and salt. Simply make 6 burger patties and put into the
refrigerator for about an hour. You won’t sprinkle with salt until just before you put into the
frying pan. (There is no egg, and no other seasonings . . . trust me).

Special Sauce

1/2 cup Hellmann’s mayo, 1/4 cup relish, 1/8 cup ketchup, 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar, 1 small
chopped dill pickle, 1 tbsp. finely minced onion, 1 tsp. sugar or sweetener. Blend together and
set aside. Taste and add a little more of this or that as you like.

A Few More Simple Ingredients

Hamburger buns, iceberg lettuce leaves, sliced tomato, sliced onion, cheddar cheese (or your favorite cheese). You may want to add mustard, bacon, or any other fabulous deliciousness your heart desires.

Show Time!

Take your patties out of the refrigerator and salt both sides (a pinch of salt or two will do).

Grease up your cast iron pan with some olive oil and put over medium-high heat. When the pan is nice and hot, put in a couple of patties at a time and using a spatula, smash the patties down as much as you can so they get a little thinner. I like to put a lid on the pan for a minute or two so the grease doesn’t ruin my apron. When the hamburgers are brown on one side, flip. You will cook each side for about 2 minutes. While you are cooking the second side, smash down a little more and then top with your favorite cheese, putting a lid on again and lowering the heat. Once the cheese has melted, put the burger on a plate. Repeat this process until all burgers are done.

Building the Burger

Toast the inner side of the buns in the oven or on the grill. Once toasted, butter. Building from the bottom up, schmear the special sauce on the bottom bun, top with iceberg lettuce, seasoning with a little more salt, then the tomato, seasoning again with a little more salt. Top with the cheesy patty, a good slice of onion, a sprinkling of salt, another patty, then top with the bun.

Finally, squish down, dig in and let the good times roll. Simple yet utterly amazing.

Read more of Tara’s recipes here.

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