Burger Challenge

Austin chefs compete in national competition to blend a better burger

Austin chefs compete in national competition to blend a better burger

Oasthouse Kitchen and Bar Austin restaurant Umami blended mushroom beef burger
Oasthouse's blended burger boasts three types of mushrooms. Photo by Courtney Pierce

Two Austin chefs are participating in a national burger competition put on by the James Beard Foundation. The challenge: fortify the burger with delicious, nutritious mushrooms.

The competition began May 30 and continues through July 31. Local participants include Amir Hajimaleki of Oasthouse Kitchen + Bar and Peter Maffei of Cannon + Belle.  

Mushrooms are a popular meat alternative in veggie burgers, and they make sense as an additive because they add moisture and a "meaty" flavor. The Austin chefs are among more than 100 participants serving versions of a blended burger, i.e., one that has at least 25 percent fresh mushrooms mixed into the burger patty.

Oasthouse Kitchen + Bar, our Tastemaker Best New Restaurant winner, has whipped up the Umami Burger, made from Akaushi Wagyu beef; Japanese spices; pickled bok choy; cucumber; and a blend of umami, oyster, and shiitake mushrooms on a Hawaiian bun.

Cannon + Belle, a new restaurant concept slated for the Hilton Austin Downtown, has crafted a short rib burger with butter-roasted beech mushrooms, heirloom tomatoes, arugula, and Swiss cheese on a pretzel roll.

Four local medical centers are also competing: University Medical Center Brackenridge, Seton Medical Center, Seton Shoal Creek, and Seton Administrative Offices.

Diners can vote once a day for their favorite burgers by visiting Blended Burger Project. The five chefs with the most votes will have the opportunity to prepare their blended burger at the James Beard House as part of the official welcome reception for the foundation's annual food conference (October 16-18).

If eating the burgers or voting for them is not enough, diners can also memorize a new hashtag — #BlendedBurgerProject — and toss that around on their social media outlets, because everyone knows it's not real if it isn't on social media.