Richard Bergfors has quite possibly one of the best jobs in the world — or the food world, at least. When he’s not travelling the world opening outlets of the burger joint his parents founded in the ‘60s, he’s travelling the world visiting other burger joints in his own, real-life version of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
Bergfors’ folks, Curt and Britta, created Max Burger in 1968, introducing their home country of Sweden to American-style burgers and fries, modelled on the fast-food classics, and the recipes invented by Britta remain today — as does the company’s commitment to using carefully sourced ingredients. Bergfors, who has taken over as CEO (his brother Christoffer is deputy) has now gone on an international expansion plan, opening three outlets in Dubai in the last six month and with plans to open in Abu Dhabi and the rest of the GCC shortly.
“We are Europe’s oldest fast food burger chain,” Bergfors tells me over a mountain of burgers, fries and milkshakes at the chain’s Jumeirah Beach Road outlet. But they have been churning out the meals with a very modern food philosophy: no GM ingredients, no trans fats, no antibiotics in the meat.
“I think from day one — I wasn’t born then — it’s always been about quality and taste, to do it better than anyone else, with our own secret recipe that we still have today. It’s been a dedication to quality and taste,” he says.
So when he’s not planning a road trip around the US, to check out what other restaurants are now doing with burgers (which he might do a couple of times a year), Bergfors and family are taste testing their product – or as he puts it, being a food nerd.
“Everything from the bun to the meat to the sauces, everything we have developed ourselves, we’ve been trying it and trying to get the right type of flavour. It’s just dedication and being a food nerd. Our Frisco bun took us 11 years to develop. We just try and try and you don’t give up until we have found the right taste and quality and something we can be proud of.”
Don’t go to Max looking for a Swedish meatball or pickled herring — this is a purely American-style burger spot, and it’s in the price bracket with McDonalds and Burger King, rather than Shake Shack, for example. A meal here won’t set you back much more than Dh20.
“We are a Swedish chain but on the other hand burgers are extremely American. The Swedish thing is the dedication to detail, that is a typical Swedish trait, as you would see in Ikea and H&M. But in terms of flavours, it wouldn’t say that it’s typical Swedish flavour, its more international. But as a family we are Swedish and we are the ones making the recipes and eating the burgers everyday, so there might be something Swedish but it’s hard for me to say. We sell things we like and what we think is good.”
There are Max Burgers on Jumeriah Beach Road (near Umm Al Sheif Street), Oasis Centre and Mirdif City Centre.