Top chefs join the Blended Burger Project™ to make a difference

blended burger

From The James Beard Foundation.

The James Beard Foundation has announced the third year of the Blended Burger Project™ which invites participants to join a movement that strives to make burgers better by blending ground meat with chopped mushrooms. The blended burger results in an incredibly delicious patty that’s healthier for your guests and more sustainable for the planet.

In the last two years, more than 700 chefs nationwide—including fast casual, fine dining, food trucks, campus dining and burger bars—took part in the 10-week competition. Chefs created and menued their take on a blended burger featuring at least 25% finely chopped or diced mushrooms blended with meat. 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 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,” said 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.”

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

“The Blended Burger Project™ is an important and impactful component of the James Beard Foundation’s ongoing work to support the culinary community’s desire for a more sustainable, healthy food system,” said 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.”

Consumers can vote for their favorite burgers at jamesbeard.org/blendedburgerproject. 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 for a chance to win a trip for two to the 2018 Blended Burger Project™ event in NYC.

Making a difference through sustainability

Mushrooms are not only healthy on the plate, they’re also gentle on the planet. According to a new study, The Mushroom Sustainability Story by SureHarvest, blending mushrooms with meat reduces a chef’s impact on the environment. The sustainability benefits of blending mushrooms into burgers makes the Blended Burger Project™ an integral part of the James Beard Foundation’s Impact Programs, which are committed to establishing more sustainable food system through education, advocacy and thought leadership.

According to the study, production of a pound of mushrooms requires only 1.8 gallons of water and 1.0 kilowatt hours of energy, while generating only 0.7 pounds of CO2 equivalent emissions. In addition, the annual average yield of mushrooms is 7.1 pounds per square foot—meaning up to 1 million pounds of mushrooms can be produced on just one acre of land.

What this means:

  • Water required to grow mushrooms is just a fraction compared to other foods
  • Replacing a portion of meat with mushrooms—the blend—helps keep CO2 emissions and energy footprint in check
  • Mushrooms’ small growing space conserves soil and nets high yields. Each year, mushroom growers are able to produce millions of pounds of mushrooms on just a few acres of land
  • The mushroom industry is the largest recycler of agriculture waste in the food landscape

Visit jamesbeard.org/blendedburgerproject to read the contest’s official rules, including eligibility requirements and voting and judging criteria.

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