The last supper: Kuma’s Corner burger causes scandal with Catholics

[Editor’s note: A review of the burger by Arts and Life Editor Andrew Morrell follows the main article.]

It’s rare that a burger causes controversy, but Kuma’s Corner found itself at odds with the Catholic Church this month.

The restaurant’s burger of the month for October at the original Avondale location is inspired by Swedish metal band Ghost B.C., known for its strong anti- Catholic imagery during performances.

The Ghost tops a 10 oz. beef patty with braised goat shoulder, aged white cheddar and ghost chile aioli. And a communion wafer garnish and red wine reduction.

It’s not a surprise that Catholics around the city were outraged, but DePaul’s Catholic community isn’t sharing the same sentiments, necessarily.

“I don’t think it’s disrespectful or offensive,” Brian Barfo, a senior accounting major and president of the Catholic Student Union at DePaul, said of the burger. “(Kuma’s Corner) only created it to pay homage to the band, not to disrespect the Catholic faith.”

In a blog post on the restaurant’s website form Oct. 4, Michael Cain and Luke Tobias, owner and director of operations at Kuma’s Corner, spoke out against the backlash, explaining they did not intend to offend the Catholic community but rather honor Ghost, “praising a band for the work that they do.”

They continued in a tongue-in-cheek manor to cite the First Amendment, including it in the post saying, “if you are not familiar with it, let us provide the text for you,” leading them to insist that October’s burger of the month will remain until November.

Assistant Professor of religious studies Thomas O’Brien wasn’t personally offended by the meal, but wasn’t pleased with the restaurant Cain keeping it on the menu after the outrage.

“Prioritizing (dedication to the band) above the concerns of faithful Catholics by continuing to offer the burger even after it became controversial raises questions about the moral worth of these decisions,” he said. “Now (Cain) just seems to be using this as an opportunity to promote his sophomoric restaurant.”

Kuma’s Corner attempted to smooth over the controversy by donating $1,500 to the Catholic Charities of the Chicago Archdiocese, but the group refused the donation Oct. 7, according to a Chicago Tribune article from the same day.

“Communion is a central part of the Catholic faith,” Kappel said, according to the Tribune report. “We strongly urge Kuma’s to discontinue selling a burger that disrespects that faith and the faith of all Christians.”

What both Barfo and O’Brien urge, however, is that the Communion wafer isn’t the Eucharist.

“A round wafer made of flour and water is not eucharist, it is just a round wafer made of flour and water,” O’Brien said. “Eucharist is created at a Eucharistic liturgy in a ritual celebrating Catholic communion.”

“Any piece of unleavened, unflavored bread could be changed into the Body of Christ during mass, so just because it happens to be a piece of bread marketed as a communion wafer doesn’t make this burger a big deal in my eyes,” Barfo said.

Barfo’s not a big fan of burgers, but if an unconsecrated communion wafer were on a food he liked he’d still eat it. O’Brien hasn’t been to Kuma’s before, and he doesn’t plan to in the future.

The Ghost burger will be at Kuma’s Corner in Avondale, located at 2900 W. Belmont Ave., through Oct. 31.

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REVIEW by Andrew Morrell: An ode to The Ghost

This might be the most meat I have ever eaten at once, and I regret not one bite of it. The flavor profile of this gourmet flesh mound is simple yet effective: the goat shoulder makes things very succulent, with plenty of great beef taste and a nice smokiness to it. With the spicy red wine reduction, it tasted almost like a pot roast on a bun, with plenty of juices that runneth over my fries, and all over my hands, every time I bit down. This was actually more awesome than annoying because of how delicious it was; after I was done with the burger, I sopped up the sinful emulsion with the fries and did the dishwashers a favor by totally clearing my plate. Then I sat back in my seat and decided I probably shouldn’t eat anything tomorrow for health reasons. No regrets though, it was certainly one of the best burgers I’ve ever had.