The James Beard Foundation, the venerable institution that celebrates restaurants, chefs and culinary traditions in the United States, is hosting its annual Blended Burger Project, a contest in which chefs from throughout the country are invited to participate. The idea behind it is to create a burger patty that’s a mix of ground meat and mushrooms, all in the name of health and sustainability. Why mushrooms? More than other veggies, they are the perfect fit for taste (umami anyone?), texture, looks, growing time and nutritional content. For Artisan’s “The Forager,” the patty comprises house-ground Jackman grass-fed wagyu, wild Florida boar and Maitake mushrooms, and it’s topped with Comté cheese, pickled ramps and Nueske’s bacon jam on a brioche dusted with black garlic.
Folks, it is the only competitor from Southwest Florida, and the café has until July 31, 2018, to get as many people as possible to vote for “The Forager” (just type “Artisan Eatery” into the search field and it instantly pops up). The burger will also be available to order at the restaurant until July 31, and you can social-media it up with #blendedburgerproject). Of the hundreds of places that are participating, the 20 with the highest tally when polls close will have three judges—TV host Andrew Zimmern, Good Housekeeping’s Susan Westmoreland and StarChefs.com’s Antoinette Bruno—sample their creations and then crown five winners.