BILLINGS – After playing football at Rocky Mountain College and spending 15 years working with children and families, Brad Halsten decided to follow his passion for food.
The Burger Dive was Halsten’s dream for years and that dream became a reality in 2010.
“We’ve been fortunate because really the day we opened we needed to be fairly successful or it wasn’t going to last very long…and it was,” said Halsten. “Everything we’re making is fresh here in house. From the fries, to every sauce that goes on the burger, we’re really taking the extra time to make sure that everything is unique to here.”
Halsten has made it a point to use as many local ingredients as possible. The onion rings at the restaurant are made using Angry Hanks beer, which is made right down the street from The Burger Dive. One of his recent creations is a homemade Montana huckleberry hatch chili bar-b-que sauce.
Since opening, Halsten has made sure to pack each burger with local ingredients, creativity and award winning flavor.
In 2014, The Burger Dive made their first appearance on the world stage, winning the title of “Best of the Bash” for their burger at the Food Network South Beach Food and Wine Festival.
“Our first taste of that kind of thing, I was happy to go,” said Halsten. “I’m looking next to me and I’ve got a guy over there with a championship belt on his shoulder because he’s won before and it was just like ‘this is great to be here’… and then to be up on stage and Rachel Ray and Robert Irvine are handing me a $10,000 giant check – that was cool.”
It didn’t stop there. Halsten earned his spot competing in the 2016 World Food Championships after winning a qualifying round in Montana.
“There was 52 people in burgers and all 52 had to win a qualifying event to get there,” said Halsten.
The Burger Dive was announced in first place the first night of competition, but after a scoring glitch, went into the final round in second place.
“We ended up coming back to hear our names announced…”World Burger Champion”…that was incredible,” said Halsten.
Halsten will go into this year’s competition as the reigning champion, and with last year’s win earned a spot at the competition for the next five years.
Halsten, who grew up in Northern California but has called Billings home since his college days, said he is happy to be a part of the growing food scene in Billings.
“I think if you look at the downtown area, especially over the last six years, there’s been a tremendous change,” Halsten said. “I like to feel like we were a part of that. That has been a lot of fun really, to see things changing food-wise here in Billings and to feel like we’re kind of a part of that emerging scene.”
In 2010, Halsten thought The Burger Dive would be a family business. In 2017, he now runs the restaurant with the help of his family and a group of loyal employees.
He is quick to note that the restaurant business is a tough one, and The Burger Dive has been lucky to have loyal customers since the beginning.
“The people in Billings have supported us really from day one,” said Halsten. “I’ve got people that I remember seeing on the first day through the door that still come in and that’s been awesome.”
The Burger Dive is open for lunch Monday through Saturday.
MTN’s Samantha Harrelson