Alumni savor memory of legendary French Burger


Jameson Datoc '23

The reporter for this story recreated the famous French burger.

Jameson Datoc ’23

Packaged salad, pizza, chicken tenders, spaghetti, vegan items, burritos, donuts, and pancakes are some of the featured food items Epicurean serves in the cafeteria today. However, the alumni of the 1980s had very different items on the menu.

Students today look forward to lunch and may think that they have the best lunches in Riordan’s history, but students from the ’80s argue that nothing can ever compare to the iconic and legendary French burger.

The story goes that the French burger was cooked on a greasy old stove, which was cleaned once on every full blood moon, deep fryers that looked like they survived a house fire, and cooking oil that had not been changed for two years.

How could something cooked in such questionable conditions be called a culinary delight beyond imagination? Nevertheless, this extraordinary, mouth-watering dish was the top lunchtime item in Riordan’s history, those who enjoyed one say.

Craving for answers, The Crusader interviewed alumni teachers to see what was behind the French burger’s success.

Social science and Spanish teacher Ed Beteta ’85, Audio Visual Art teacher Viggen Rassam ’87, Campus Ministry Director Alex Datoc ’87, and English teacher Michael Vezzali-Pascual ’88 all described it as a large sourdough roll or French roll with two juicy beef patties, creamy melted American cheese, and condiments of their choosing.

Along with the delicious French burger, it came with deep- fried French fries, and according to Beteta, the French burger was priced around $1.75 to $2.00.

The dish evolved over the years. Beteta said that the French burger buns were a choice of either a sourdough roll or French roll about the size of a Safeway French roll, approximately six inches long, while everything else was the same.

Rassam stated that the French burger came with the choice of lettuce and tomatoes. Datoc mentioned the French burger came with a buttery French roll and grimy-flavored grease on the beef patties. (He thinks they were beef patties… He hopes they were beef patties).

Vezzali-Pascual said the burger came with only sourdough rolls, and a choice of cheese or no cheese Justin Brierton, cafeteria manager of Epicurean, said, “I have indeed heard the whispers of the French Burger when chatting with Riordan alumni. From what I’ve been told, it was a greasy delight enjoyed by all the students.”

Could the French burger make a comeback? Brierton said, “We would attempt to recreate it perhaps during a special occasion such as Homecoming week that celebrates Riordan’s unique past. I’m told my predecessor attempted to resurrect the burger for an eager alum but failed to capture the magic that was the Riordan French Burger.”

Brierton estimates it would cost at least $9.50. “This is still a pretty good deal considering Beep’s would be around $17 for a full meal and most fast-food joints like McDonald’s would be over $10,” he said.

Some 30 plus years later, would these alumni eat the French burger again? Without any hesitation, every single one of them said yes.

What about Brierton? “Are you kidding!? You just interviewed me about burgers, of course I want one now!”