Introducing the Blended Burger Project™ Campus Edition

A contest open exclusively to chefs at U.S. colleges and universities

college cafeteria

From The James Beard Foundation.

Blending meat and mushrooms in burgers and other iconic foods is a major trend heralded by a number of trend-setters and publications such as FoodService Director, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, WebMD, SyscoShape, “The TODAY Show,” Food & Wine, USA Today and more. As many know, that trend was started by college and university chefs and dining directors because they could make burgers better (as well as meatballs, tacos and meatloaf) by blending at least 25% finely chopped or diced mushrooms in with meat. These operators knew that “the blend” was better tasting, better for the environment, better nutritionally and better for holding, because of the juicier texture. 

In return for being pioneers and trend-setters, the James Beard Foundation has created The Blended Burger Project™ exclusively for colleges and universities (BBPU). Similar to JBF’s Blended Burger Project™ for all chefs, regardless of segment or business, this movement asks operators to develop their version of a blended burger using at least 25% mushrooms blended in with ground meat for burgers, merchandise it to guests and encourage them to vote for their burger on

What’s different is that BBPU is open only to colleges and universities. The contest will kick off on Labor Day and run through Dec. 15. Those universities that have the most votes in their category (by size), will be invited by the James Beard Foundation to cook at the historic James Beard House in the week before Earth Day 2018. It’s an incredible opportunity that most college and university chefs usually don’t get—to showcase their talents and their university in front of media and food influencers at the James Beard House. 

And why shouldn’t college and university chefs have this opportunity?  

  • Colleges and universities were among the first to adopt the blend to build more sustainable menus and satisfy their students. This segment has been a leader in sustainable food practices for many years and has pioneered countless innovations on campus.
  • There is great culinary work happening on college campuses across the nation—many featuring creative burgers and burger builds on dining hall menus. Now, the James Beard Foundation’s Blended Burger Project™ can acknowledge the work, creativity and sustainability these campuses have to offer. 

The Blended Burger Project is one of the James Beard Foundation’s Impact Programs; hundreds of C&U chefs, Top Chefs, Iron Chefs, hotels, chains, food trucks, fast-casual burger concepts and more participated. With the popularity of burgers, these chefs understand that, with so many burgers served, it’s the perfect opportunity to make a significant difference—for the health of your students/guests, the health of the planet and the overall flavor of your burgers.  And most of the participants have kept their blended burgers since it is the perfect way to enhance an existing platform and to bring more sustainable practices to your menu. 

Blending meat and mushrooms together was a concept born at the Culinary Institute of America and made popular by chefs around the country because of the James Beard Foundation. The Blended Burger Project™ Campus Edition is supported by FoodService Director magazine, which was one of the first to identify this trend. Winners will also have feature articles developed around their entire foodservice approach by FSD.

Not often, if ever, do C&U chefs have the opportunity to cook at the James Beard House in New York City. But with all the talent, the culinary prowess, the trend-setting and the focus on sustainability by this segment, there is no reason they shouldn’t. The Blended Burger Project™ Campus Edition offers up that opportunity to six talented chefs.

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