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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.