Archive for the ‘Council Representative’ Category

Blending is Trending in Dining Halls Across the Nation

From mushroom blended cheeseburgers to crimini mushroom meatballs, blending was trending at three of the nation’s top universities. Mushroom Council representatives witnessed firsthand students’ passion for mushrooms as they toured Yale University, the University of Massachusetts, and the University of North Texas.

Mushrooms Make the “Final Cut” at Yale

In February the Mushroom Council was proud to participate in the 6th Annual Yale University Final Cut Culinary Competition. The secret ingredient of the night? Mushrooms!
Yale Final Cut Recipe Contest Secret Ingredient - Mushrooms!

Teams of students from each of the 12 residential colleges battled in an Iron Chef style format, in which they had one hour to prepare an appetizer and main course dish using fresh mushrooms and Atlantic salmon. Recipes were assessed by a panel of esteemed judges on a variety of criteria including taste, presentation and creativity.

Yale Final Cut Recipe Contest Winning Mushroom Soup

While the colleges had an hour each to complete their meals, Yale students were able to browse through the vendors and sample various products. Mushroom offerings were plentiful; crimini mushrooms sautéed in butter, shiitake mushrooms glazed with teriyaki, and mushroom bean tacos, with cheese, spicy chipotle and a tangy cilantro lime sauce were just some of samples students had the opportunity to try.

Yale Final Cut Recipe Contest Winners 2014

It was a tight race to declare the winner, but it all came down to how the appetizer and main dish paired together as a complete meal. The $1,000 grand prize and the Copper Pot Trophy went to Berkeley College for their Thai Soup dish. Branford College came in second place with their Mushroom Risotto and Grilled Salmon with Caramelized Mushrooms and Brussels Sprouts, and Trumbull College came in third, with their Pesto Salmon with Couscous and Mushroom Crepe.


Mushroom Mania at the University of Massachusetts

Displays over flowing with mushrooms, mushroom blended burgers, crab cakes, meatballs and wraps, and a mock-growing room featuring crimini, oyster, and shiitake mushrooms were just some of the main highlights of the University of Massachusetts’ weeklong Mushroom Mania event.

Mushroom Mania Mock Growing Room at UMASS

During the week, Mushroom Mania “toured” around campus visiting 4 of UMass’ popular dining halls. On Monday students dining at Worcester were treated to Grilled Mushroom, and Chickpea Wraps and Crimini and Pork Meatballs. Tuesday at Berkshire featured a Portabella “Burger,” Mushroom Mac N Cheese, and a Mushroom Crostini. Wednesday brought all kinds of mushroom favorites to Franklin dining hall; a Baby Bella, Caramelized Onion & Swiss Panini, Mushroom, and Potato and Chorizo Tacos topped the menu.

Mushroom Mania Menu at UMASS

The final night of Mushroom Mania festivities left students dining at Hampshire happy and satisfied; Jamaican Jerk Mushroom Lettuce Wraps with Papaya Salsa, Barbecue Pulled Mushroom Slider with Blueberry and Cabbage Slaw, and the Classic Mushroom Blended Cheeseburger were served; all while students waited for celebrity guest, Chef Jehangir Mehta.

Chef Jehangir Mehta at UMASS Mushroom Mania

Chef Mehta, of The Next Iron Chef fame, spoke to students about the many benefits of blending mushrooms into classic meat dishes, while preparing a delicious Blended Portabella Angus Burger with Enoki Mushroom Fries.  Impressed by the mock growing room set up in the dining hall lobby, students came armed with questions, and seized the opportunity to start a discussion. Mushroom Council representatives, Steve Solomon and Brittany Stager, fielded questions and walked students through the types of mushrooms, how they are grown, and the nutritional attributes.

Chef Jehangir Mehta's Blended Burger at UMASS

The mushroom-centric week was rounded out with a special invite-only dinner hosted by Chef Jehangir Mehta at the University Club.


Celebrity Chef Maneet Chauhan Makes Guest Appearance at University of North Texas’ Mushroom Mania

Butternut Squash Soup, Charred Kale Caramelized Shiitake Naan Pizza, and Tandoori Portabella Burgers were just some of the offerings Chopped Judge and Food Network Superstar Chef Maneet Chauhan had planned for students during the University of North Texas’ Mushroom Mania promotion in early March.

Mushroom Mania at University of North Texas

Mushroom Mania brought fun and knowledge together at UNT’s Kerr Cafeteria. A mushroom-centric menu, an Iron-Chef style competition between campus chefs, a live cooking demonstration and sampling of Chef Maneet’s Tandoori Portabella burger had drawn students from every corner of the campus. Students were encouraged to try their hand at mushroom trivia in order to win a UNT Mushroom Mania t-shirt; a great way to engage them in conversation and allow them to ask questions. University North Texas Mushroom Burger

University North Texas Mushroom Naan Pizza

Beyond the excitement the menu and chef competition created, the Mushroom Council and UNT wanted to educate students on mushrooms as a sustainable and affordable food option that can be used to extend or replace meat in various dishes and add nutrition. Students were eager to learn about how mushrooms grow, what makes them a sustainable product, and just how beneficial they are to their health. The students and UNT faculty were beyond thrilled with Maneet’s appearance, toting Mushroom Mania as one of their best events.

Blendability Recognized as a Way to Transform School Lunches

Earlier this month the Mushroom Council was invited to serve mushroom blendability products at the Vendor Showcase Lunch at School Food Focus. Council Representative, Kathleen Preis, was there to demonstrate how blendability can transform school lunches.

The Mushroom Council could not have been more honored and grateful for the invitation to serve mushroom blendability at School Food FOCUS at the beginning of the month. Being surrounded by other vendors who are working towards transforming food systems to support students’ academic achievement and lifelong health, while directly benefiting farmers, regional economies, and the environment was incredibly inspiring.

The Mushroom Council Booth
At our booth we sampled a delicious blendabiliy Shroom’n Turkey Meatloaf. Foodservice directors eagerly waited for samples; all the while noting how moist and flavorful the meatloaf was – attributing all these wonderful properties to blendability. It’s amazing how mushrooms can instantly improve any dish they are paired with; that it’s no wonder why mushrooms have become a go-to ingredient for school foodservice directors.

Touring Oakland Unified School District
On the first day at School Food FOCUS we had the amazing opportunity to visit two schools in the Oakland Unified School District. Hosted by Jennifer LeBarre, the school foodservice director for OUSD, we visited the site of the central kitchen being planned for 2016, and learned the strategies being implemented to transform school food in the district. Hearing how dedicating city funds directly to the school foodservice program, and how quickly this massive project is not only being accomplished but supported, was inspirational.

After our central kitchen tour, we traveled to an East Oakland campus to eat lunch and experience “California Thursdays,” a collaborative project between Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) and the Center for Ecoliteracy, which showcases dishes made from fresh, California-grown ingredients as part of the California Food for California Kids™ initiative.

School Food Focus Lunch

Hearing the elementary schools’ favorite meal from the “California Thursday” program was a tofu and noodle dish made me certain students would absolutely devour our mushroom recipes. Capping off the tour, we visited OUSD’s school produce market and a truly spectacular school garden.

School Food Focus Garden Tour

If there is anything we can learn for Jennifer and her talented team it’s that slowly introducing scratch cooking dishes to her students and staff can ease the acclimation process and increase acceptance.

Thank you to all the foodservice directors at School Food FOCUS who now recognize mushroom blendability as a realistic technique to transform school lunch at a large district level.

School Food FOCUS, is an collaborative effort funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, and a growing number of sponsors, individuals, and private funders,  to make school meals nationwide more healthful, regionally sourced, and sustainably produced. FOCUS aims to transform food systems to support students’ academic achievement and lifelong health, while directly benefiting farmers, regional economies, and the environment.

Mushrooms Take Over the Campus at University of Southern California

A weeklong mushroom-centric campaign called Mushroomapalooza kicked off this past Monday at the University of Southern California. Council Representative, Brittany Stager, was there to help educate students on the many health benefits of mushrooms, as well as take in some of the delicious mushroom items menued on campus during the week.

Interest piqued as the fresh mushrooms display was set up at Cafe 84 on the University of Southern California campus. A wide array of fresh, local and cultivated mushrooms were put on display at the cafeterias sauté station to celebrate the launch of Mushroomapalooza; a week long mushroom promotion hosted by seven campus restaurants and the Mushroom Council.

Students waited patiently at Cafe 84′s sauté station for their fill of simple sautéed mushrooms; a medley that consisted of shittake, crimini, maitake, and beech mushrooms. Mushroom pizza, risotto, salad, and soup were just some of the mouth-watering mushroom filled items that made an appearance on the cafeteria’s menu for the week.

Cafe 84, along with several other campus restaurants including McKay’s, The Lab Gastropub, Morton Fig, Lemonade, Seeds, and Traditions celebrated Mushroomapalooza by serving up fresh mushrooms all week long. Students enjoyed everything from a simple mushroom & spinach crepe served at Seeds, to crispy tempura oyster mushroom at USC’s pub, Traditions.

The students weren’t the only ones excited by the appearance of mushrooms, USC chefs showed some excitement too; “I love what you can do with all the different varieties of mushrooms. But it was important that we didn’t over think the mushroom menu at The Lab. I wanted to create dishes that were unique but still familiar – soup, flatbread, pot pie, tacos, these are all familiar pub dishes,” says Chef Joe Ledesma, who was thrilled to take part in the festivities. Chef Mikery Hatfield, Executive Chef at McKay’s, also had a great time coming up with their mushroom menu, “there are so many ways to menu mushrooms, but I wanted to really feature one new dish every day.”

Mid-week the students were invited to experience two more mushroom centric dishes, Chicken & Mushroom Vietnamese Spring Rolls and Smoked Shiitake, Kale, & Spelt Salad, prepared by Chef Eric Ernest and Chef Lance Avery at the USC Weekly Farmer’s Market. Beyond the free samples, students were eager to win a Mushroomapalooza commemorative t-shirt, taking part in USC’s “Shirts for Selfies” contest.

The Mushroom Council was proud to take part in this campaign; educating students on the many benefits of mushrooms and allowing them to experience their true versatility in all the dishes served across campus.

2014: The Year of the Mushroom

Kennett Square Mushroom Drop New Years

On Tuesday night, we all counted down the end of 2013 and cheered the start of a new beginning for 2014. While every city put their own twist on New Year’s celebrations, few pulled off an event quite like Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

Instead of a ball drop in Times Square, Kennett Square nodded to their home town roots with a “Great Mushroom Drop” that lowered as 2013 came to a close.  The event featured a lighted steel mushroom at 8’ wide, 7 1/2′ tall, and approximately 600 pounds, which took an estimated 800 feet of LED lights to sparkle above the city.  Kathi Lafferty, Owner of The Mushroom Cap and the coordinator of The Annual Mushroom Festival, was on-site to capture the experience first-hand. 

Kathi described the event for us as, “A chilly, festive, starry night with a crowd of happy faces listening to music, waiting for the moment – just wanting to say they were there – being a part of making history!” For Kathi the mushroom was more than a fun event to ring in the New Year. She stated, “It’s not just a metal mushroom to me.  It really is a symbol of what this industry is all about - hard work, food and giving back to the community.”

Even those who didn’t have the chance to attend could follow along with the tweets that were streaming in from the event.  Check out a few of our favorites below:

Mushroom Drop Tweets

We loved seeing the excitement that came from the 2013 Mushroom Drop, but it’s the final tweet that makes us proud of what a wonderful year 2013 was for mushrooms.  From the launch of “Trend to Blend” to school lunches and even restaurant mushroom menu highlights, we’re grateful for all of the mushroom love that we received the past year. However, the mushroom story never ends, and we have plenty of new recipes, tips and partnerships in store for 2014 to keep mushrooms a leading driver for good health and delicious meals.  We look forward to connecting with our mushroom fans from all over the country to make 2014 the best year mushrooms has ever seen.

Stay tuned as we kick off 2014 – what we’re dubbing “The Year of the Mushroom.”

In 2013, The Trend Was To Blend!

In 2013, it became very obvious– The Trend Was To Blend!  From blending up a storm at the School Nutrition Conference, to putting blendability to work at the Produce Marketing Association Foodservice Conference, Council Representative Bart Minor, highlights the top five ways blending was trending in 2013.

CIA Blendability

The idea of blending finely chopped mushrooms with meat is not a complicated concept. When you swap out half the ground beef and blend in finely diced mushrooms you are not only reducing the saturated fat and calories*, but adding a serving of vegetables. It is possible to serve healthier versions of your favorite classic meals without sacrificing taste. This simple, yet revolutionary way of serving healthier meals without comprising on flavor is catching on…

PMA Burger

Take a look at the Top 5 Way Blending Was Trending in 2013:

1.  Celebrity Chef, Richard Blais not only menued his delicious Earth & Turf Burger at his Flip Burger Boutique restaurant, but prepared it live on Access Hollywood and The View.

2.  Guest Chef Jehangir Mehta, from Next Iron Chef, wowed the crowds at last month’s “A Feast to Celebrate the Future of Food” event in New York with his blended Portabella-Angus Burger with Enoki Mushroom Fries and Shiitake & Maitake Ketchup.

Future of Food

3.  Jessica Shelley of Cincinnati Public Schools, became one of the first school service directors to serve blended mushroom burgers to her students. Serving mushroom blended burgers allows Jessica to top the burgers with turkey bacon and cheese, creating a more appealing presentation.


4.  Throughout 2013, some of the Mushroom Channel’s favorite food bloggers showed us how blendability is done; creating delicious blended recipes for their families. Some of our all time favorites include Baked Spaghetti with Mushrooms by Ingredients, Inc, Minced Chicken and Mushrooms with Lettuce Cups by Chez Us, and Mushroom Meatball Parmigiana Sliders by The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen.

Minced Mushroom and Chicken Cup

5.  Make Room For Mushrooms: Fungi Compete With Meat In Burgers, by NPR’s “The Salt”, explores the emerging trend of blending. Amy Myrdal Miller from the Culinary Institute of America, Chef Bob Okura from the Cheesecake Factory, and Chef Robert Rusan from St. Louis Schools are just some of the blendability fans who share their thoughts in this article.

Now let’s make blending a continuing trend in 2014!