A juicy chipotle mushroom burger created by Frostburg State University’s executive chef Justin Wilson could send him to the prestigious James Beard Foundation in New York.
FSU’s burger isn’t your typical mushroom burger, explains Wilson, of Uniontown, Pa., chef for FSU’s Dining Services provider Chartwells.
Restaurant chefs call the burger “The Blend” because mushrooms are placed in a food processor combined with ground beef. It helps elevate the burger profile.
“It actually adds a nice texture to it that you wouldn’t think of,” Wilson says. “It makes it moist, and you wouldn't know the mushrooms are in there unless I told you.”
The James Beard Foundation recognizes the best chefs and restaurants in the U.S. each year. The foundation is running a Blended Burger Project contest with The Mushroom Council for the favorite burger featuring a creative use of mushrooms, flavor profile and appetizing appearance.
Photo Caption: Frostburg State University Executive Chef Justin Wilson, right, created a blended chipotle mushroom burger with the assistance of 2015 FSU alumna Sara Hughes, left. The burger is in the James Beard Foundation’s Blended Burger Project contest.
The burgers with the most votes will send the top five chefs to the historic James Beard House in New York City where they will craft their beefy masterpiece at a welcome reception for the annual JBF Food Conference in October.
“The James Beard Foundation is very prestigious,” Wilson said. “It would be amazing to win one of those awards.”
Burger fans can vote once a day through July 31 at https://www.jamesbeard.org/blendedburgerproject/vote. In the search box, type “Frostburg” to find the FSU burger.
Wilson’s burger includes cremini mushrooms, red onion, chipotle and jalapeno peppers, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, eggs, breadcrumbs, Montreal steak seasoning and mustard barbecue sauce, topped with bacon hash that includes sliced bacon, peppers and onions. It is served on an onion roll. The original version had French fries with the bacon hash, but Wilson removed those for the contest.
Chefs have created a beef-and-mushroom blended burger over the past few years as a way to reduce calories and sodium while boosting sustainable food practices. Burgers must have at least 25 percent fresh and chopped cultivated mushrooms in the burger patty to qualify for the contest.
FSU Dining Services commits itself to sustainable dining by purchasing some of its produce from Frostburg Grows, a grow-it-local project sponsored by FSU, and healthful produce that grocery stores declined to purchase because of odd shapes or markings.
Wilson’s burger was created by bouncing ideas off of alumna Sara Hughes when Hughes was a student and worked with Chartwells at FSU. Hughes helped prepare the burger with Wilson and has since moved to take a job in Washington state following graduation in December 2015. The pair’s burger also placed third in Chartwells Better Burger Contest, a national contest within the company.
Wilson’s ability to create a tasty burger on a student budget is testament to his skills. His work focuses on creating dishes for the catering menu at FSU and this was a way to get involved on the retail side.
“Justin is an extremely talented chef,” says David Glenn, director of Dining Services at FSU. “Things like this we can show off what he can do. He can branch out and show his skills and have a little fun while doing it.”
The burger is planned to be offered in the fall at Grill Nation at Appalachian Station, located in the Lane University Center on campus. For more information on Frostburg Dining and its commitment to sustainability, visithttp://www.dineoncampus.com/frostburg.
Situated in the mountains of Allegany County, Frostburg State University is one of the 12 institutions of the University System of Maryland. FSU is a comprehensive, residential regional university and serves as an educational and cultural center for Western Maryland. For more information, visit www.frostburg.edu or facebook.com/frostburgstateuniversity. Follow FSU on Twitter @frostburgstate.