Natural Gourmet Institute
Hosts MM Burger Cook Off;
And the Winner is...

June 16th, 2014


Wasabi-Spiced Adzuki Burger

There’s a new burger in town. And its name is Wasabi-Spiced Adzuki.

On Monday, June 9, The Natural Gourmet Institute hosted a live Meatless Monday Veggie Burger Competition. Three NGI graduates were chosen from a field of alumni entries and given two hours to create great tasting, and, of course, healthy burgers. 

The idea of the contest was two-fold: to celebrate Natural Gourmet Institute’s focus on plant-based cuisine, but also to acknowledge that everyone, especially now in prime grilling season, loves a good burger.

“The contestants each created succulent meatless burger recipes with outstanding flavor components that surprised and delighted all of the tasters at the event,” says Rosemary Serviss, Director of Career Services at Natural Gourmet Institute. “They were some of the best burgers I’ve ever tasted, meatless or not.”

The best part about the contest is anyone can make these burgers. Because the rules stated that all ingredients must be local and seasonal, any home cook can try these recipes at home and host their own cook off. The recipes for all three burgers can be found here.

Competitors with judges - Version 2In front of a live audience that included NGI alumni and current culinary students, the judging panel was comprised of experts in meatless and burger cuisines: Peggy Neu, President of The Monday Campaigns, Mark Rosati, Culinary Development Director of Shake Shack, and Neal Harden, Executive Chef and partner of Pickle Shack, had the enviable job of enjoying all three burgers, and then picking a winner. For consumers who aren’t aware, burger-centric Shake Shack features a ‘Shroom Burger on its menu, while Grub Street described Pickle Shack as a “vegetarian snack shop disguised as a craft beer bar.”

“It was exciting to see the veggie burger reinvented in such imaginative ways,” Neu commented. “All three contestants used ingredients and spices that were surprising and absolutely delicious. It was a bit intimidating at first to be a judge with two experienced chefs, but Mark and Neal were relaxed and helpful. And I am, after all, an experienced eater of veggie burgers, at least on Monday!”

When the last burger was plated and sampled, Chef Shruti Jain came out on top. Her Wasabi-Spiced Adzuki Burger wowed the judges for its taste, originality and presentation, topping Alyssa Loscalzo’s Carmelized Cauli Burger and Kaitlin Maritato’s BBQ Tempeh Temptation Burger. Think veggie burgers are dry and flavorless? This week, visit your local farmers’ market, use the recipes as a guide, and see how delicious and creative veggie burgers can be.

All photos courtesy of Natural Gourmet Institute