Recipes and Wine Pairing

What’s for Dinner? A Casual Father’s Day in West Michigan

When I first moved to Michigan about 40 years ago, I was greeted by something totally local, fabulous and delicious—Grand Rapids’ Mr. Fabulous Olive Burger. Now, the olive burger is a standard offering in diners, drive-ins, and dives around the country. But none ever quite match my memory of the original. I’ve tried all the burger joints. I’ve tasted other seekers’ recipes and experimented myself. I’ve searched the web. I’ve listened to people boast about finding the best, or even the original. But, like the fountain of youth, the perfect olive burger still eludes me. 

Still, I thought Father’s day in West Michigan deserved a couple of killer recipes for olive burgers. It’s what I’m cooking! So here’s a tribute to all the dads born and raised here, settled here or gone to other states. To dads who’ve raised their kids or grand kids here. To dads who love to grill and swill, we salute you.

Father’s Day Fabulous Dad Michigan Burger for 4 Burgers  


  • 1 lb. ground beef, at least 18% fat, made into 4 patties, grilled according to our burger grilling tips, seasoned at the end with freshly ground black pepper and topped with a slice each of provolone cheese for the last 2 minutes of cooking time (I’m pretty sure that the original went for yellow American cheese, but I always love the way provolone melts and tastes!)
  • Your favorite buns, toasted lightly on the grill while burgers rest
  • Green olive sauce (see below)
  • Slices of tomato and (optional, onion)
  • Lettuce leaves

To Assemble: Spread top and bottom of buns with a bit of the sauce. On bun bottom, layer burger, green olive spread, tomato and lettuce. Close with bun top.



  • 1-1 ½  C coarsely chopped pitted green Spanish olives with or without pimento
  • 1 TBS capers
  • Zest from ½ a lemon (just the yellow)
  • 1 medium clove garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 TBS coarsely chopped parsley leaves
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 C Hellman’s (Fable seekers say this is key to authentic Mr. Fabulous Michigan flavor!!)

HOW TO: Pulse first six ingredients in the food processor until medium coarse grind. Then stir ground olive mixture together with olive oil and  ½-1  C Hellman’s (Key!!!) mayonnaise

The Provençal Perfect Papa Burger for 4 burgers


  • 1 lb. ground lamb (or beef) made into 4 patties, grilled according to our bugger grilling tips and seasoned with freshly ground black pepper
  • Your favorite buns, toasted lightly on the grill while burgers rest
  • 1 small package soft goat cheese
  • ½ - 1 C of aioli
  • Tapenade
  • Slices of tomato
  • Lettuce leaves

To Assemble: Spread goat cheese, then aioli, generously on top and bottom buns. Then, on bun bottom, layer burger, 2-3 TBS tapenade, a tomato slice, lettuce leaf. Close.



  • 1 C good quality, pitted, flavorful black olives like Kalamata
  • 6-8 canned or cold-packed anchovy fillets, rinsed and coarsely chopped
  • 2 TBS capers, drained
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves1 medium to large clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp shallots, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 TBS fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper

How to: Put first six ingredients in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add lemon juice, (1 TBS to start), 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil, a few grinds of black pepper and pulse a few more times until the tapenade has a grainy texture. Make it at least a day in advance and store in fridge to marry flavors. Bring to room temperature before layering in burger bun.

AIOLI [eye-oh-lee] is a traditional Provençal garlic sauce (French word for garlic is ail [aye]. You can use my hack—1 C Hellman’s real Olive Oil mayonnaise stirred together with 1 TBS minced garlic.

Burger Wines

PAIR Father’s Day Fabulous Dad Green Olive Burger:  This burger has strong flavors, and the saltiness of the olive sauce is pronounced. So if you pair it with a red wine you will want a red you can chill a bit.  In keeping with the Michigan roots of this burger, try Chateau Grand Traverse Gamay Noir. It is my favorite Michigan Red and made from the grape of French Beaujolais. It is young, refreshing, and fruity, but not sweet. 

PAIR Provençal Perfect Papa Burger: This lamb burger oozes the Mediterranean with its black olive tapenade, garlicky aioli, and tangy fresh goat cheese, so I am matching origins with a dry, crisp, delicious rosé from Provence, Fleur de Mer Provence Rosé. Or go for a  Mediterranean red blend like our best-selling Domaine Saint Cosme [pronounce comb] Côtes-du-Rhône, made from the Syrah grape, an earthy red that complements the black olive sauce and has enough fresh  blackberry fruit and acidity to cut the richness of this burger.

Tips for grilling great burgers

  • Use freshly ground beef with at least 18% fat. (Already ground lamb usually has enough fat to keep the burgers moist.)
  • Don't Over Handle Ground Meat. It produces tough burgers. In a large bowl, gently mix in seasonings by “combing” the meat apart with moistened fingers spread apart. 
  • Make Burger Patties with a Dimple in the Center Form patties gently and quickly with wet hands. Divide 1 lb. of ground meat into 4 equal portions and form patties about 3/4-inch thick at the edges and 1/2-inch thick in the center. This will keep the burgers from shrinking and forming a mounded center.
  • Place Burger Patties in the Fridge. Until you put them on the grill, the patties should be cold so they stay together and stay as juicy as possible. Put the patties on a tray or platter, covered, in the fridge while the grill heats up. This helps more of the flavor-carrying fat stay in the meat.
  • Start With a Clean Cooking Grate. Charred food bits, an un-oiled surface and a too low temperature all cause sticking. You want the burgers to sear immediately.
  • Use a Hot Grill.  With charcoal, my favorite, the ash-covered coals should produce even heat. Then cook with the lid off. With the gas, keep the grill at a steady high heat and cooking with the lid down.
  • Flip the Burgers Once Only. Constant turning toughens and dries out the meat. If you flip too early they stick. Cook 2 min. per side for rare, 3 for medium-rare, 4 for medium, 5 min. for well-done.
  • Don't Press Burgers with your spatula. You are just pressing out the delicious, precious juices. No amount of sauce will make a dry burger moist!
  • Rest the Burger about 5 min. to finish cooking and to allow juices to soak back into the meat.


Roz Mayberry
About Roz: During her distinguished career, Roz has served a term as the Retail Representative on the MDA's Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council and Continues to serve on their Promotion & Education and Competition Committees. In addition, she has served as a judge in various national and international wine competitions.

Working with D&W's wine stewards and SpartanNash's vendor partners, Roz tirelessly explores the vast world of wine, discovering the finest wines for every budget and every taste. And she loves to discuss food and wine with customers and colleagues. As a lifelong foodie, there is nothing else she'd rather be doing.