CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - At Cowell & Hubbard Tuesday afternoon, a group of about 50 Cleveland chefs and reporters sampled one of four burgers that could be a winner of a James Beard sustainability project that's hotter than ever.
The Blended Burger Project is a movement that strives to make burgers better by blending ground meat with chopped mushrooms. They're not against meat, they're just focused on sustainability.
The contest requires that each burger patty be consisted of 25 percent mushrooms.
As Steve Solomon of The Mushroom Council points out in the video above, "On an acre of land you can grow a thousand pounds of beef -- you can grow a million pounds of mushrooms because mushrooms grow up."
It takes only one gallon of water to grow a pound of mushrooms, but it takes considerably more for the same portion of beef or other proteins.
The blended burgers aren't only better for sustainability, but they are better for you as well. One of the biggest benefits is that mushrooms essentially have no calories.
Solomon points out other reasons it's better for burger lovers in the video above.
"It's time to re-imagine the iconic burger to create a menu item that is incredibly delicious, healthier for your guests, and more sustainable for the planet," according to the James Beard Foundation.
Reimagine they did.
Bruell served a beef patty with sherry, thyme, tarragon, sauteed leeks, truffle and pecorino cheese.
It was topped with frisee and he jokingly called it the "2 a.m. special." He said Mawby's, a now-closed 1950s burger joint in Cleveland Heights, and Swenson's inspired this burger.
Thyme 2's burger was a blended patty with goat cheese, ricotta and a bacon and red onion jam.
Creekside Restaurant served a mixed bison patty with ground Portobello mushrooms with a red wine barbecue sauce.
Astoria Market & Cafe put lamb, ox tail, beef and mushrooms into a patty and served it with a cucumber and tzatziki sauce.
The contest is one of popularity.
A panel of food experts selected by the James Beard Foundation will determine five winners from the top 20 entries with the most online votes. Experts will determine the top five winners based on 1. most creative use of mushrooms; 2. best flavor profile; and 3. presentation.
Online voting begins May 29.