MISSOULA – UM Dining at the University of Montana has created a burger that is a cut above the rest for the national James Beard Foundation’s 2017 Blended Burger Project Campus Edition contest.

UM Dining’s award-winning blended burger (UM Photo)

The Blended Burger Project is part of an initiative to make the iconic, American hamburger better by blending ground meat with mushrooms to create a patty healthier for people and more sustainable for the planet. UM’s blended burger took first place in the medium-sized universities category in the competition.

UM Associate Director of Residential Dining Patrick Browne developed the winning recipe during his tenure as executive chef for the department. UM students, faculty and staff have enjoyed the specially seasoned blend of local, grassfed beef and fresh mushrooms in the Food Zoo dining room for the past three semesters.

“The blend produces a juicier, more flavorful burger,” Browne said of the award-winning patty. “The difference in taste and texture has been positive across the board. Most people are unaware they’re doing their health and the planet a favor – they are just enjoying a really good burger.”

The James Beard Foundation’s mission is to support chefs and other leaders who make America’s food culture more delicious, diverse and sustainable – a cause close to the heart of UM Dining’s core values. To honor UM Dining for its award-winning entry, the foundation will fly Browne to Manhattan, New York, to prepare the blend in the historic James Beard House alongside celebrity culinarians and chefs from other winning universities, including the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, North Carolina State and the University of Alaska- Fairbanks.

The revolutionary burger is available at several UM Dining retail outlets, including the 406 Grill in the UC Food Court, the Iron Griz restaurant and the Corner Store.