SDSU dining hall burger wins praise in national competition

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SAN DIEGO — A burger made with beef and mushrooms from a San Diego State University dining hall has been lauded by the James Beard Foundation, the school announced Monday.

SDSU placed seventh in the foundation’s “Blended Burger Project: Campus Edition,” which challenged university chefs to create a burger featuring a patty made with at least 25 percent finely chopped fresh mushrooms. The aim, according to the foundation, is to promote the use of vegetables as a more sustainable alternative to a traditional all-beef burger.

The Beard Foundation’s annual awards are commonly referred to as “the Oscars of food.”

In crafting SDSU’s entry, University Towers Kitchen chef de cuisine John Zamora said he drew from his background in Pacific Rim cuisine.

The burger, which has since been made a permanent menu item at the dining hall, consists of pureed mushrooms and onions that are sauteed and cooled before being added to angus beef and dried Hondashi, a seasoning often used in miso soup and other vegetable stews.

The patty is served on a buttery brioche bun and topped with aged cheddar, shredded lettuce, Roma tomatoes, tempura sliced pickles and a roasted garlic pepper aioli.

“Participating in national culinary competitions gives us the opportunity to grow in our craft,” Zamora said. “This was truly a team effort, and as a team we feel honored to take part in the JBF burger project.”

Blended burgers were devised in an effort to more toward more plant- based entrees. By reducing beef consumption, less water is used in the growing and raising of the ingredients that make up the finished burger and as a result is more sustainable, according to the Beard Foundation.

Other top entries included burgers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, North Carolina State University and St. Norbert College.