The winners of the 2018 Blended Burger Project

Plant-forward and sustainability are two fast emerging restaurant menu trends. With those trends, the James Beard Foundation has been promoting “there's ‘shroom for improvement in your favorite burger” with their The Blended Burger Project™.

During its recent two-month run, 350 restaurants developed and served their version of a blended burger, which combines finely chopped mushrooms with meat to create a more delicious, nutritious, and sustainable burger (uses less meat and more plants).

From Memorial Day until July 31, more than 250,000 votes were cast on-line, before a panel of expert judge - Andrew Zimmern, James Beard Award-winning TV personality; Susan Westmoreland, Culinary Director, Good Housekeeping; and Antoinette Bruno, Editor-in-Chief, StarChefs - evaluated the 20 burgers with the most votes to crown this year's champions. The Blended Burger Project winners are:

Burgh'ers Restaurant's The Fox Chapel blended burger

The Bearded Chef, Palm Bay, FL
Thai My-Shroom: an umami bomb Thai burger made from Florida-grown Monterey mushrooms blended with beef and pork, with ginger, lemongrass, cilantro, and bird's-eye chile; served with spicy Thai ketchup, pickled enoki mayonnaise, mushroom-cured egg yolks, and smoked maitake bacon on toasted mushroom-dusted brioche

Burgh'ers Restaurant, Pittsburgh
The Fox Chapel: a 75/25 blend of local grass-fed beef and local roasted mixed mushrooms topped with goat cheese, pickled red onions, avocado, spring mix, and balsamic glaze

Courtyard Cafe at Raymond James, St. Petersburg, FL
Smokey Mushroom Venison Blended Burger: char-grilled blend of farm-raised New Zealand venison, angus beef, and hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, with alder wood-smoked sea salt, cracked pepper, and porcini mushroom powder; served with beet ketchup, melted smoked Tilamook cheddar, and wild ramp béarnaise on a sourdough pretzel roll.

Curb Side Bistro, Odessa, TX
El Tejano Borracho (The Drunken Texan): a 70/30 blend of ground beef and mushrooms, including shiitake, white button, and portabella, topped with pulled pork; tangy barbecue sauce; jalapeño, mushroom, and corn fritter; cilantro ranch; pickled red onions; and mushroom - white queso cheese sauce on toasted brioche.

Toltec Brewing, Albuquerque, NM
The Royale: New Mexico beef brisket-roasted crimini patty with aged white cheddar, Young Guns New Mexico green chiles, herb - ancho chile mayonnaise, applewood bacon, local fried egg, and heirloom tomato on jalapeño brioche

Our company has begun including blended burgers in all the menus we develop for our clients. Blended burgers, as some of the winners show, do not have be limited to beef. Bison, lamb, elk, venison and other animal proteins can be used. There are also variations using other vegetables instead of mushrooms, such as beets. However, mushrooms introduce an umami savory flavor profile to the burgers, greatly enhancing their cravability.