Wiener takes it all

  • Johnny be good!: Richard Burchall with one of his Johnny Dogs (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
  • Talent in the family: Richard Burchall with the Johnny Dogs logo made by his daughter Anya (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Five years ago, Richard Burchall stuck a beef frankfurter inside some Johnny bread.

Co-workers at Black Horse Tavern, the St David’s restaurant he then worked at, convinced the head chef he was on to a hit.

“I love experimenting,” he said.

“I thought, let’s see how this goes. I slapped the dough around the hot dog and deep fried it. It was delicious.

“I think the sweetness of the dough mixed with the saltiness of the all-beef hot dog works really well.”

He started selling them two years ago, first at Harbour Nights and then in schools, barber shops, gas stations and grocery stores.

The 41-year-old owner of Sunset Catering uses a Johnny bread recipe he got from his sister, Ereka Gift, who cooks at the Sylvia Richardson Care Facility in St George’s. He also created a variety of sauces to complement the treats.

His cheese and onion and papaya and chutney have been well received.

“At Harbour Nights I had one lady off a sailboat buy 20,” he said. “She bought them for her crew back on the boat.

“She came back the next day and bought 20 more.”

He’s flattered by the imitation that has come with his success.

“There was no such thing as a Johnny Dog before I thought of it,” Mr Burchall said. “Then recently some other places have started selling ‘Johnny Dogs’. We’ve now got our logo and the name Johnny Dog trademarked.”

The logo was designed by his 15-year-old daughter Anya. Both she and her sister Ma’az live overseas, but help their father with Harbour Nights sales every summer.

He reckons he’s made about 500 Johnny Dogs since he started; roughly 50 a day.

“If I made a million hot dogs I’d be a very happy man,” he said.

“I’m the kind of person who likes to shoot for the stars.

“I’d like to mass-produce them, and maybe sell them in grocery stores. People could buy them frozen and heat them up at home, like they do corn dogs.”

Hot dogs aren’t the only thing he makes.

“I bake when I’m happy,” he said. “This Easter holiday, I was making hot cross buns and sugar cookies and fried apple pies.

“I also do a veggie burger from scratch with chickpeas and vegetables.

“I can’t eat the same thing all the time. I need to do different things.

“If we feel like Chinese or Italian, or Bermudian food like mother used to make, it is no problem for me.”

He has a part-time job at Wahoo’s Bistro & Patio in St George’s.

“With the America’s Cup here this year, I wanted to do more of my own thing,” he said. “Working part-time, I can devote myself more to the hot dogs and my catering business.”

His mother, Rose Burchall, was also a cook.

“I learnt a lot from her,” he said. “She always had me in the kitchen.

“I always had my fingers in the bowl.”

Even after he’d finished his culinary training at the Bermuda College, he would still call her for advice.

“She knew how to do pretty much anything,” he said. “She’s not in very good health right now.”

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