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Blended Burger Project unites meat and mushrooms in sustainable deliciousness

The burger revolution is now.

Back for another year, the James Beard Foundation is launching its Blended Burger Project on Memorial Day, challenging chefs in New York and across the country to make ‘shroom in their meaty patties for some vegetables.

Blended burgers must have a ratio of 25 percent mushrooms or vegetables to 75 percent meat. Through July 31, restaurants can put the blended burgers on menus, and diners can vote for their favorites (in addition to Instagramming their creations). The top five chefs will be invited to the James Beard House to cook for their annual food conference in October.

“It’s a simple challenge but with really great potential to change the way Americans enjoy this classic American food, the quintessential burger,” said Kris Moon, vice president of the James Beard Foundation, at the James Beard House on the evening of Monday, March 28, 2016. Last year, 250 restaurants participated in the challenge, but Moon thinks as many as 500 chefs may sign up this year.

Mixing mushrooms with meat is not totally revolutionary — it’s been done in home-cooked dishes, meatloaf, for example, for decades — but the Culinary Institute of America helped innovate the concept to include a larger “quantity of plant-based material in an iconic food like a hamburger,” explained Bart Minor, president of the Mushroom Council (#careergoals).

Minor is “amazed at what this concept can do” because “the idea here is that if we’re truly going to make an impact on the health of America, we can’t be afraid of attacking the foods that all of us eat most often: hamburgers, tacos, burritos.” Minor hopes the project encourages a move towards a move plant-based diet.

Melissa Kravitz