This summer, the James Beard Foundation is bringing back it's Blended Burger Project for its fourth year.
Until July 31, chefs participating in the challenge will compete to make the best burger that has been blended with both mushrooms and meat.
The restaurants' customers will be judging the burgers and can vote for their favorite online. A lucky voter will be selected for a "paid trip for two to the 2018 Blended Burger Project celebration event" which will be at the James Beard House this fall.
Almost 1,000 restaurants have participated since the foundation launch the project three summers ago and two million votes from guests have been collected.
Some restaurants Foodable has visited with its production team are competing this year like Graffiti Earth in New York City, along with some Foodable Top 25 gems like Chef Stephanie Izard's Little Goat Diner in Chicago.
The 20 restaurants that get the most customer votes will then be reviewed by the official judges Andrew Zimmern, James Beard award-winning TV personality and celebrity chef; Susan Westmoreland, culinary director at Good Housekeeping; and, Antoinette Brown, CEO & editor-in-chief of StarChefs.com.
The judges will select the top five burgers that have been blended with 25 percent mushroom and 75 percent meat and score the burgers "on the most creative use of mushrooms, best flavor profile and presentation – and earn a trip to the prestigious James Beard House in New York for a special Blended Burger Project celebration dinner this fall," according to the JBF in a recent press release.
As plant-based proteins are on the rise, the JBF is encouraging restaurants to experiment with more sustainable burger patties that appeal to meat-lovers who want to make less of an environmental impact.
The decision to offer more plant-based options has ecological benefits. Meat has a much bigger water footprint than grains, vegetable, or beans. It takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce just 1 pound of meat, according to PETA.
But if more chefs offer blended burgers, this could have a significant impact.