The James Beard Foundation’s (JBF) annual call to chefs to make ‘shroom for improvement on their menus will continue in 2017 with the third Blended Burger Project (BBP). Starting Wednesday, restaurants nationwide can register to take part in JBF’s summer-long competition to blend finely chopped mushrooms with meat for burgers that are more delicious, nutritious and sustainable.

Last year, chefs at 349 restaurants nationwide—including fast casual, fine dining, food trucks, campus cafeterias, and iconic burger joints—took part in the 10-week competition. Chefs created and menued their take on a burger featuring a ratio of at least 25 percent cultivated mushrooms blended with protein. Participating chefs and restaurants included Hugh Acheson’s Empire State South in Atlanta, Jehangir Mehta’s Graffiti in New York and Maria Hines’ Tilth in Seattle. Consumers voted online more than 2 million times for their favorite burgers. Many of last year’s participants noted how the burger met the changing needs of their guests—who are seeking more nutritious and/or sustainable dishes—and continue to menu the burger today.

“Shortly after the debut of our blended burger last year, we had lines of people eager to try it—some coming in almost every day,” says Chef Toni Elkhouri of Melbourne, Florida’s Cedar’s Café, one of five 2016 BBP winners. “In the end, our little 30 seat [48 if you count outside] restaurant served more 2,000 blended burgers in two months.”

“The Blended Burger Project is a fun and impactful component of the Foundation’s ongoing work to support the culinary community’s desire for a more sustainable, healthy food system,” says Kris Moon, vice president, James Beard Foundation. “Mushrooms’ umami, nutritious quality and low environmental footprint make them the perfect ingredient for chefs to utilize when reimagining the iconic American burger.”

To take part in the 2017 Blended Burger Project, restaurants should:

  • Develop their unique version of the blended burger
  • Register to participate, including sharing a photo and description of the burger
  • Menu the burger and encourage consumer votes from Memorial Day (May 29) through July 31

Consumers can vote for their favorite burgers and chefs from the five restaurants with the most online votes will win a trip to the James Beard House in New York City in early 2018 to cook their burgers at a special Blended Burger Project event. New this year, consumers who vote for their favorite blended burger will be entered in a random drawing for a chance to win a trip for two to the 2018 Blended Burger Project event.

Fast Food, Menu Innovations, News