Culinary — 20 April 2016
Second annual chef invitational invites eaters to ‘shroom.

By Hope S. Philbrick

This summer, the James Beard Foundation and the Mushroom Council are serving up the 2nd annual Blended Burger Project—a national initiative that invites restaurants and chefs nationwide to create ‘blended burgers,’ that is, patties that blend finely chopped mushrooms with meat for improved flavor, nutrition and sustainability.

Yesterday, I was among the invited guests to taste three blended burgers at Chef Hugh Acheson’s Empire State South: chicken (which tasted like beef!), beef and lamb.

Blended Burger Project - Chef Hugh Acheson“The idea behind this to me is we’re taking something as ecologically sustainable as mushrooms—that can be farmed with low amounts of water, little space and future farming ideas—and we’re having an impact on animal husbandry and farming,” said Chef Hugh Acheson during the luncheon. And it’s without any compromise on flavor: “We don’t want to introduce mushrooms into these blended burgers so that we wow you with mushrooms. This is the most advanced filler with real health value.” In a previously released statement he said that “the meaty, umami qualities of mushrooms make them the perfect ingredient to boost a burger’s flavor and their nutritional and environmental qualities make a great burger even better.”

Acheson’s lamb burger, my personal favorite among the three offered (though I wouldn’t pass up any one of them), was 30 percent mushrooms and 70 percent ground lamb. If I hadn’t been told it had mushrooms in it, I’d never have known. A representative of the Mushroom Council pointed out that in many schools nationwide mushrooms are being blended into burgers, so for a whole generation of palates it will be the norm.

The Blended Burger Project will run from Memorial Day May 30 through July 31, 2016.

At the conclusion of the project, the five chefs with the most votes in the online image-voting gallery will win a trip to New York City in October 2016 to cook their “blended burger” at the official welcome reception for the annual James Beard Foundation Food Conference at the historic James Beard House.

The Blended Burger Project is worth biting into. Here’s how to get involved, no matter who you are:

Restaurants & Chefs
  • To join the Blended Burger Project, complete the registration form.
  • Create your blended burger by blending at least 25 percent fresh, finely chopped, cultivated mushrooms into your patty.
  • Send a high-res photo of your blended burger dish to Michelle Santoro at blendedburger@jamesbeard.org for use in the online image gallery.
  • Put the dish on your menu from Memorial Day through July 31, 2016.
  • Encourage diners to vote for your blended burger in the online gallery.
  • Use the official Blended Burger Project media assets provided by James Beard Foundation to promote the dish on your menu, website, social media (@beardfoundation #BlendedBurgerProject) and throughout your local market publications and broadcast outlets.
Foodies & Diners

Order blended burgers at participating restaurants, including…

Blended Burger Project5&10, Athens, Georgia
The National, Athens, Georgia
The Florence, Savannah, Georgia
Empire State South, Atlanta, Georgia
Lincoln Restaurant, Portland, Oregon
Sunshine Tavern, Portland, Oregon
Graffiti Food & Wine Bar, New York, New York
Me and You, New York, New York
Mehtaphor, New York, New York
Marin Restaurant & Bar, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Mill Valley Kitchen, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Tilth Restaurant, Seattle, Washington
Fruition Restaurant, Denver, Colorado
Smoke Restaurant, Dallas, Texas
The Gladly, Phoenix, Arizona
Garces Trading Company, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Vote for your favorite blended burger in the online gallery at jamesbeard.org/blendedburgerproject.

Home Cooks & Grillers

Blended Burger ProjectTry this recipe (serves 4) for a Classic Blended Burger.

1/2 lb. cremini or white button mushrooms
2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 buns

Finely dice mushrooms or gently pulse in food processor.

In skillet, warm 1 T olive oil on medium-high heat and add mushrooms, sauté 5-7 minutes until golden brown. Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes.

Transfer cooled mushrooms to medium bowl. Add ground beef and salt, mixing until combined. Make 4 patties. Add remaining olive oil to pan and cook burger patties on medium-high heat until desired doneness (or broil or grill according to your preference). Add to buns and plate along with desired toppings.

Suggested toppings: Fresh tomato slices, red onion slices, butter lettuce, cheddar cheese and your favorite spreads.

Enjoy!

More Information…

Blended Burger Project

#BlendedBurgerProject on social media

James Beard Foundation

Mushroom Council

Blended Burger Project

– Photo Credits: banner image courtesy #BlendedBurgerProject; remainder © HSP Media LLC

Featured products, services and/or travel arrangements may have been complimentary in part or in full; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion.

HSP15Hope S. Philbrick is founder and editor-in-chief of Getaways for Grownups. Her work has appeared in dozens of publications nationwide. She’s reviewed restaurants for several Atlanta-based newspapers and magazines for more than 14 years. When not writing, she can usually be found on the road or savoring something tasty.

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