Blended Burger Earns UMass Dining First Place in James Beard Foundation Contest

 Robert Bankert
Robert Bankert

Highlighting the creativity of chef de cuisine Robert Bankert, UMass Dining has taken first place in the 2017 JBF Blended Burger Project Campus Edition, sponsored by the James Beard Foundation.

Colleges and universities nationwide were asked to create “blended burgers” by combining finely chopped mushrooms with meat, creating a burger that’s tastier, healthier and more sustainable. The chef creators of the winning blended burger in their respective categories have earned a trip to New York City to be featured at an event at the James Beard House in April.

Winners were selected in online voting.

Chef de cuisine Robert Bankert is the creator of the first-place winning Chicken Tikka Masala Burger, which features a combination of Indian flavors blended with 30 percent mushrooms.  When creating the burger, Bankert focused on creativity, great flavor and an appetizing appearance. “I had a lot of fun combining traditional Indian flavors with mushrooms. The students clearly did too, they were our biggest advocates until the end,” Bankert said.

The JBF Blended Burger Project Campus Edition included participation from Virginia Tech, North Carolina State and Rutgers universities and the University of California Riverside, among others. Although there was an abundance of competition, the UMass Amherst student community came through in the voting, showcasing their support for award-winning UMass Dining and cementing the win.

“We couldn’t have done this without our students. They are our biggest support in endeavors such as these and we’re so proud to have their spirited participation,” said Ken Toong, executive director of Auxiliary Enterprises.

For the past two years, UMass Dining has been honored for the Best College Food in the country by the Princeton Review.

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