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In search of the perfect patty

<p>The Linder family will complete there burger quest in Waimea. From left, back: Kevin Sankey, Joe Lindner, Tom Pappas. From left, middle, is: Laura Sankey, Doris Lindner, Karen Pappas holding Charlotte Pappas. From left, front, is Nolan Sankey, Colton Sankey and Logan Sankey holding Teddy Pappas. (PHOTO COURTESY OF THE LINDER FAMILIY FOR NHN)</p>

The Linder family will complete there burger quest in Waimea. From left, back: Kevin Sankey, Joe Lindner, Tom Pappas. From left, middle, is: Laura Sankey, Doris Lindner, Karen Pappas holding Charlotte Pappas. From left, front, is Nolan Sankey, Colton Sankey and Logan Sankey holding Teddy Pappas. (PHOTO COURTESY OF THE LINDER FAMILIY FOR NHN)

<p>Village Burger in Waimea is the final burger destination for the Linder family. (PHOTO BY CATHERINE TARLETON FOR NHN)</p>

Village Burger in Waimea is the final burger destination for the Linder family. (PHOTO BY CATHERINE TARLETON FOR NHN)

In October 2010, USA Today published a list of “51 Top Burger Joints” in America, and Chef Edwin Goto’s still-new Village Burger, recommended by food writer/author Joan Namkoong of Waimea, made the cut. Goto proudly hung the story on the wall, near the board showing names of each farm, ranch and food provider supplying his fresh local ingredients.

Sandwiched between businesses at Parker Ranch Center, the small, farm-to-fork eatery had quickly attracted a loyal foodie following, and proved Goto’s gamble, that busy people were hungry for good “fast” food that was also good for local agriculture. Staying loyal to the “low mileage” foods that customers love, Village Burger continued to garner acclaim from national publications, like Sunset, Fodor’s Guide, Hemispheres, and Travel + Leisure.

Meanwhile, Joe and Doris Lindner, retired doctors from Hilton Head Island, S.C., spent the next three years visiting 50 of those 51 best burger joints in the states and Washington, DC.

“We saw the article in USA Today on October 1, 2010,” said Joe. “At the time, we were visiting our daughter in Colorado, and Denver was the place for Colorado’s best. So, on the way home, we went there. Then we went to the restaurants in Kansas, Missouri and Tennessee and said to each other, ‘Well, we’ve got four, why don’t we go after them all?” A few weeks ago, a friend visiting the island stopped by Village Burger to let Goto know they were coming.

Tomorrow, Friday, April 26, at 10:30 a.m., Goto and his team will welcome the Lindner ‘ohana to Village Burger, and the entire community is invited to come and watch, especially those farmers, ranchers and others who contribute to Village Burger’s success. On the agenda are proclamations from Mayor Billy Kenoi and the Hawaii State Senate, maile lei, presentation by Kahu Danny Akaka and family, and others.

This will be the Lindner’s first trip to Hawaii Island, though they have been to Oahu and Maui in the past. Accompanying Joe and Doris on their culinary history-making visit are daughter and son-in-law Laura and Kevin Sankey; and grandchildren, Logan, Nolan, and Colton. Back home, daughter and son-in-law Karen and Tom Pappas, and grandchildren Teddy and Charlotte will cheer them on.

Of the 50 burger joints so far, the Lindner’s have picked a couple of favorites.

“My wife’s favorite was in Des Moines at a place called Django’s—the only five-star restaurant where we got a hamburger,” said Joe. “It was a nice restaurant, with very charming people, and we were really treated well.” Joe’s pick was the burger from Ray’s Hell Burger in Arlington, VA , also visited by President Obama, where the chef prepared a juicy, perfectly cooked medium-rare burger, exactly to his liking.

Joe has binders full of photos, restaurant checks and mementos of their burger journey, which he’s collected and saved for the family.

“It’s important for us to include our grandchildren because this is a story they’ll remember for the rest of their lives,” he said.

In addition to local agriculture, Village Burger has supported the community in numerous ways, including performing arts with a fundraiser for Kahilu Season during its “intermission,” and Mala’ai Culinary Garden of Waimea Middle School with sales of their student-grown herbal iced tea. The restaurant is located in Parker Ranch Center in Waimea. For more information, visit www.villageburger.com or call 885-7319.