Tipping Point Executive Chef, Jonathan Wicks, has entered a burger of his own design into the Blended Burger Project, a sustainability initiative and culinary competition hosted by the James Beard Foundation. The foundation, which awards the nation's most prestigious gastronomic awards, hopes to encourage more sustainable meat practices by challenging chefs to create burgers using 25 percent mushrooms.
More than 100 of the nation's best chefs are putting their culinary skills and butchery knowledge to the test by creating burgers that are both 25 percent more sustainable and, hopefully, interchangeable with 100 percent beef patties.
Chef Wicks, of Hotel ZaZa Memorial City, uses a mixture of sirloin, brisket, beef neck, and oxtail to make up the beef portion of his double patty burger. He meets the mushroom requirement using wild hen of the woods and king trumpet mushrooms. The latter absorb the flavor of what they're cooked in, while the former are famous for their bold umami. Together, the two distinct fungi compliment the chef's choice of high fat content beef, creating both a mouth feel and flavor profile indistinguishable from pure beef.
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The burger is set on a sesame seed brioche bun. Double patties drip melted cheese while resting on a bed of shredded lettuce and grilled onions. The house pickles hidden within are a few notches sweeter than a standard dill. This choice plays well against the spicy kick of the chef's homemade hot sauce and Dijon mustard blend.
This is a messy meal. Grease soaks the bun thoroughly; an intentional feature meant to further convince diners of its all beef purity.
As part of the competition rules, the burger will be added to the Tipping Point's menu through July 31. Voting will be open to the public until then. Diners are encouraged to try the burger and vote on the James Beard competition page over the course of the next month.