Crave Real Burgers, which launched in Castle Rock in 2010, unveiled a new burger this month that has earned it a top 5 spot in the James Beard Foundation's Blended Burger Project, a nationwide contest to make a blended burger from ground meat and culitvated mushrooms that is healthier, more sustainable — and delicious.
"I think it's awesome,” said head chef and co-owner Jeff Richard. “We're extremely happy and honored they (our customers) are taking as much pride in this as we are. There's no way we could do this without our customers.”
The new burger, the Drunken Mushroom, is available at all four Crave Real Burgers locations through July 31. Locals are encouraged to try the burger and cast an online vote for the Drunken Mushroom burger at bit.ly/VoteForCrave . The contest ends July 31.
The Drunken Mushroom consists of a patty made with 75 percent Colorado Proud beef and 25 percent sautéed, finely chopped shiitake and cremini mushrooms blended with fresh thyme, rosemary and garlic. Only mushrooms grown indoors can be used. The burger is then topped off with truffle mayonnaise, parmesan, gruyére and Swiss cheeses, ketchup and drunken onions with tempura-fried shiitake and cremini mushrooms on top. It's served with a side of red wine-infused au jus for dipping.
“The tempura-fried shiitake and cremini mushrooms on this burger really set it apart and provide a satisfying crunch with a deep and earthy flavor,” said Richard, who hopes the community will vote. "We want to win and show the rest of the country what Colorado is made of.”
Founded in 1986, the James Beard Foundation celebrates, nurtures and honors America's diverse culinary heritage. A cookbook author and teacher with an encyclopedic knowledge about food, the late James Beard was a champion of American cuisine. He helped educate and mentor generations of professional chefs and food enthusiasts, instilling in them the value of wholesome, healthful and delicious food.
Today, the foundation administers a number of diverse programs that include educational initiatives, food industry awards and scholarships for culinary students, publications, chef advocacy training and thought-leader convening.
The foundation also maintains the historic James Beard House in New York City's Greenwich Village as a performance space for visiting chefs.
The five chefs who receive the most online votes for their burger will travel to Beard House to cook their burgers in October. There are 333 participating chefs in the Blended Burger Challenge, 12 from Colorado. Other participants include Fruition Restaurant, Mercantile Dining & Provision, Old Major, range Restaurant and TAG Burger Bar, all in Denver.
With almost 4,000 votes as of July 15, Crave is the only Colorado burger in the top 5. Cedar's Cafe in Melbourne, Florida, is in the lead with more than 6,000 votes. Burger lovers can cast a vote online once a day and also vote by posting their burger photos to social media with the hashtag #blendedburgerproject.
“If we can get Crave from Colorado to represent a nationwide contest in New York,” Richard said, “I'm all about it.”