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Visiting chef brings “Mushroom Mania” to dining halls

| Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Mushroom Mania swept through North Dining Hall Tuesday night in the form of a variety of burgers, courtesy of celebrity chef Jehangir Mehta.

“Though I don’t really like mushrooms, I decided to try out a number of the burgers this evening, and I was actually pleasantly surprised with the result,” sophomore Grace Garry said.

Mehta, executive chef and owner of New York City restaurants Graffiti and Mehtaphor, stopped by North Dining Hall to make some some of his signature dishes and also to offer a sampling of different mushrooms. Most notably, Mehta served his signature Graffiti burger.

“I have been making the blended mushroom Graffiti burger since the advent of Graffiti nine years ago,” Mehta said. The Graffiti burger, besides mushrooms, has onions, cilantro, mint, lemongrass and chiles. It makes the burger extremely flavorful and moist, and also cuts the animal protein in the burger.”

The menu also featured a blue port salmon burger with peach salsa, a chermoula grilled crimini and a malai chicken mushroom burger slider, as well as stand-alone white button, crimini, portabella, shiitake, maitake, oyster and trumpet mushrooms.

“The Graffiti burger was sort of spicy, but I really appreciated how flavorful it was,” Garry said. “It definitely tasted less like mushroom than I initially expected.”

The peach salsa served with the salmon combined the flavor of the fruit with cilantro, tomatoes and other seasonings, sophomore Jake Miller said.

“I liked the salmon burger, it was full of flavor and the peach salsa complemented it nicely,” he said.

When offered condiments to accompany his burger, sophomore Joey Pye vehemently rejected them.

“Are you serious? This doesn’t need ketchup,” Pye said. “This has enough flavor on its own.”

The sampling of mushrooms also received positive reviews from the students.

“The portabello mushrooms, in particular, were really sweet and tender, and I was surprised that enjoyed them so much,” Miller said.

Mehta interacted with students waiting for their mushrooms, which were freshly sautéed with oil when ordered.

I just want the campus to understand there is protein in vegetables, and one must try to get their intake of proteins through vegetables too,” Mehta said. “One must try and strike a balance between animal laden meals and a vegetarian diet.”

After training at the Institute of Hotel Management, Catering, Technology and Applied Nutrition in Mumbai, India, Mehta moved to Hyde Park, New York to pursue a career in the culinary arts and began studying at the Culinary Institute of America, according to a press release from Food Services. From there, he worked at a number of New York restaurants before opening Graffiti, his first restaurant, in 2007. Two years later, Mehta competed on the Food Network show Iron Chef America, as well as the Next Iron Chef.

“Notre Dame is a prestigious university and it is an honor to be cooking for the students here and give them a different perspective of food,” he said.

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About Rachel O'Grady

Rachel O'Grady is a senior Political Science major living in Ryan Hall. She most recently served as Assistant Managing Editor. Hailing from Chicago (actual Chicago, not the suburbs) she's been a Cubs fan since birth.

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