Making room for mushrooms
The Australian Mushroom Growers Association (AMGA) held a meet-up of 25 Sydney chefs on 8 February to launch its Blenditarian campaign, encouraging Australians to eat more mushrooms by substituting a portion of mincemeat with mushrooms.
The event was held at Le Culinaire Hospitality Institute in Sydney and it showcased ways to use mushrooms to an audience of chefs from restaurants across the city, including Australian Turf Club, Accor Novotel Darling Harbour, Coya Restaurant, Sam Prince Group, Buvetti Pizza, The Star Entertainment Group, Hurricanes, Select Providores and Bloodwood Newtown.
It provided a platform for the AMGA to showcase the concept and highlight the advantages of incorporating Australian mushrooms into menu offerings.
The event was hosted by Chris Tolson, a fourth generation mushroom grower from White Prince Mushrooms. Tolson shared his family’s journey in mushroom growing, the growth cycle of mushrooms and the sustainability practices they have implemented on their farm.
Jane Freeman, a health specialist dietitian, was another guest speaker at the event who provided insights into the health benefits of Australian mushrooms.
The chefs were given a variety of canapés showcasing Blenditarian foods, such as pork and mushroom blended schnitzel meatballs and lamb and mushroom blended rosemary pies.
They then participated in a cook-off with Le Culinaire students, substituting 25% of mince for mushrooms in their recipes. The dishes created included beef and mushroom blended cheeseburgers with caramelised onion rings, rocket and camembert; beef and mushroom blended pasties; beef and mushroom blended teriyaki and rice; chicken and mushroom blended Vietnamese patties with vermicelli salad and a mushroom nachos dish.
With one in three Australians now consciously limiting their meat intake and 55% of households purchasing fresh mushrooms at least once a week, Freeman says exploring ways to enjoy mushrooms will reap health benefits.
“As Australians, cooking meat-based dishes is ingrained in our culture, however, by substituting a portion of mince for mushrooms, the nutritional value of meals is instantly boosted, along with a reduction of fat and sodium. Mushrooms have 88% less calories than the same portion of lean red minced meat, so substituting some mince for mushrooms significantly lowers the overall food kilojoules or calories that you are dishing up.”
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