NC State Debuts Blended Burger at James Beard House


NC State Dining’s Shawn Hoch and Eric Lewin recently represented NC State at the James Beard House on April 17: the grand prize for winning the organization’s Blended Burger Project – Campus Edition, which took place last fall.  

The competition featured colleges and universities nationwide who showcased their “blended burgers” made by combining finely chopped mushrooms with meat, creating a burger that was tastier, healthier, and more sustainable. The two chef creators of the blended burgers that received the most votes in each category won the trip to New York City. NC State’s own Chef Steve Toaso’s “Carolina Style BBQ” blended burger was barely edged out by University of Massachusetts-Amherst’s “Chicken Tikka Masala Burger.”

“While we wanted to win, what was more important was the success in the culinary and nutrition collaboration, the campus and staff rallying behind Steve, and having a great social media and communications strategy to get us to the top two.”

Toaso was unable to make the trip, so Lewin, accompanied by Hoch, went in his place.

“It was an enormous honor to cook on such hallowed ground for the culinary world. Many of the world’s best chefs have cooked at the James Beard House,” said Hoch. “Working with the Mushroom Council and the Beard Foundation was an incredible experience. The Mushroom Council provide great hands-on education to help us as a campus to think out of the box in cooking healthy dishes and being more plant forward in menu planning. We had the opportunity to dine at Graffiti Earth with Chef Jehangir Mehta, which is considered the most sustainable restaurant in New York City. It really made you think about how to use your ingredients differently and reduce waste.”