A Burger Challenge

Dallas chefs compete in national competition to blend a better burger

Dallas chefs compete in national competition to blend a better burger

Blended Burger Project by Tim Byre of Smoke
A burger competition is going down. Photo courtesy of Blended Burger Project

Three Dallas restaurants 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 begins on May 30 and continues through July 31. Local participants include Scott Romano of The Theodore, Taylor Kearney of Front Room Tavern, and Tim Byres of Smoke, who are serving their renditions in their respective restaurants.

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 three Dallas 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.

You could do a national tour of these things.

"With the blended burger, we're moving produce to the center of the plate, to create a better burger," said Byres, whose item at Smoke is a buffalo and shiitake burger with pickled beech mushrooms and banana pepper mustard. "Better for you because the burger is healthier, better for the planet because it's more sustainable, and all around better because it's so flavorful and juicy."

Romano's burger has beef, mushroom duxelles, a bacon-like porcini ham, dried tomato, and an eggless Bernaise sauce. Kearney's version contains beef, maitake mushrooms, cheddar, romaine lettuce, mushroom ketchup, and truffle aioli.

Diners can vote 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 from May 30-July 31 or voting for them is not enough, diners can also memorize a new hashtag — #BlendedBurgerProject — and toss that around on their social media outlets. It's not real if it isn't on social media.