The project challenges chefs to substitute some of the meat in their burgers for environmentally-friendly mushrooms.

By Bridget Hallinan
March 21, 2019
Anton Eine / EyeEm/Getty Images

Calling all burger joints and restaurateurs—the James Beard Foundation’s “Blended Burger” project is back, and you can start registering now. If you’re unfamiliar with the project, it challenges chefs to create burger recipes with at least 25 percent of the patty made of “finely chopped fresh mushrooms.” That doesn’t necessarily mean beef patties, either—any ground protein will do, according to a statement. The idea is that guests want to have more plant-forward menu options (indeed, over one third of Americans want to eat more plant-based food), and it’s better for the planet, too. 

From May 27 (Memorial Day) through July 31, participating chefs add these blended burgers to their menus, and fans can vote for their favorites online. Then, come August, a panel of food experts will judge the top 25 contenders based on “culinary creativity, flavor profile, and presentation.” The grand prize? Since this is the fifth year of the project, five chefs will win $5,000 (each!) and get the chance to serve their burgers at the James Beard House in New York City—attendees will then pick the ultimate favorite, to be honored with a “People’s Choice” recognition. To enter, submit your restaurant details here, encourage your patrons to vote online—and start firing up the grill now.

“The Blended Burger Project lines up with our restaurant’s—and our customers’—philosophies,” 2018 winner Fiore Moletz of Burgh’ers in Pittsburgh said in a statement. “We seek creative takes on the iconic burger, while our guests want to be served food that lines up with their health-conscious, sustainability-minded, and active lifestyles. We call our burger #theblend, and it now generates 10-15 percent of weekly revenue.”

In other plant-forward burger news, Applegate recently debuted a new lineup of products at the Natural Products Expo West, including the “Great Organic Blend Burger”—made of humanely-raised organic meat mixed with “sustainable, organic mushrooms,” according to a statement. There are two varieties—organic 100 percent grass-fed beef, and organic turkey—and they’re out this month.

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