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University of Montana celebrating award-winning burger - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

University of Montana celebrating award-winning burger

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MISSOULA - One of the best places to get a great meal in Missoula isn't a restaurant, it's on the University of Montana campus where they're celebrating a culinary coup over something called a 'blended burger'.

The award-winning burger is on the menu on the University of Montana campus and won the James Beard Foundation 2017 Blended Burger competition campus edition -- a real plum award for UM Dining.

“For a pretty small school like UM to go against some of the bigger schools and do as well as we did, it’s great!" said Associate Director of Residential Dining Patrick Browne.

It’s a blended burger a recipe that incorporates Montana grass fed beef mixed with chopped button mushrooms and a dash of salt.

“It tastes fantastic. The mushrooms add a lot of flavor and a lot of moisture. Plus, we start with really high-quality grass fed and finished beef,” Browne said.

It’s a menu item that represents what UM dining is about and where it’s going. The school already grows thousands of pounds of its own produce in its gardens and sources as much food as it can from local businesses -- because where it comes from, is important.

“Over the years the food movement, for lack of a better term, has really grained a lot of momentum. We take a lot of pride in cooking pretty much everything from scratch here at UM," said Sustainability Director for UM Dining Trevor Lowell. "A big part of that is that it gives us control of those ingredients, let’s us engage with local vendors and have more nutritional control of the menus themselves.”

Besides the sustainability factor, UM dining has always prided itself on quality food. In fact, you could call this Stealth Health -- a burger you don’t even know is good for you.

“We want to support our farmers and ranchers in Montana but we also want to have this conversation with our guests about how much meat you’re eating on a day-to-day basis," Lowell said. "And so the Blended Burger is a great way to celebrate the quality and heritage or ranching in the state but also addresses that issue of over-consumption of meat in general -- to eat better meat but less of it.”

And could a belly filled with good food help enrollment? It could as students look for a campus community that has good cuisine along with classrooms.

“The true college experience is much more than just going to class and getting your education," Browne said. "They spend a small percentage in class and the rest is spending these social times and they are choosing schools based on the quality of food and facilities and we have pride in having classically trained chefs and put out the best product we can.

Browne heads to New York to cook the award-winning burger for the judges in April.

They must be on to something because the fast food restaurant Sonic just announced it’s going to put a blended burger on its menu soon.

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