James Beard Foundation opens contest for colleges and universities

blended burger mushrooms

From The James Beard Foundation.

Blending meat and mushrooms in burgers and other iconic foods is a major trend heralded by a number of trendsetters and publications.

As many know, this trend was started by college and university chefs and dining directors because they could create better burgers (and meatballs, tacos and meatloaf) by blending at least 25% ground mushrooms in with beef. 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 trendsetters, the James Beard Foundation has created The Blended Burger Project exclusively for college 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 social media channels and on JBF.org’s gallery. 

What’s different is that the Blended Burger Project Campus Edition is open only to colleges and universities. BBPU will begin on Labor Day and run through Dec. 15. The universities with 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. 

Many colleges and universities were part of the first three Blended Burger Projects, a movement to reimagine burgers and make them better, which runs through the end of July (see jamesbeard.org/blendedburgerproject). Hundreds of C&U chefs, winners of “Top Chef” and “Iron Chef”, hotels, chains, food trucks, fast-casual burger concepts and more participated in the projects, which are part of James Beard Foundation’s Impact Programs. Given the popularity of burgers, these chefs understand that with so many burgers served, it’s the perfect opportunity to make a significant difference in the health of students/guests, the health of the planet and the overall flavor of an operation’s burgers. Also, most of the participants have kept their blended burgers, because it is the perfect way to enhance an existing platform and to bring more sustainable practices to a menu. 

Blending meat and mushrooms together was a concept created 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. But given all the talent, culinary prowess, trendsetting and focus on sustainability by this segment, there is no reason they shouldn’t. The Blended Burger Project Campus Edition offers that opportunity to six talented chefs. 

To participate, add a blended burger to your menu from Labor Day through Dec. 15, 2017, for a chance to win a trip to cook at the historic James Beard House in 2018. Find more details at: jamesbeard.org/bbpcampus.

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