In August, Hops at 84 East in downtown Holland was among five restaurants across the country to win the James Beard Foundation’s Blended Burger Project.
From Memorial Day through July 31, the competition drew in nearly 500 restaurants from all 50 states, and Hops at 84 East was able to gain enough votes from customers with its Trumpet Burger. Focusing on sustainability, the campaign challenges restaurants to blend at least 25% fresh mushrooms into a burger.
Made with a half-pound patty of local brisket and roasted trumpet mushroom grind, Roelli red rock cheddar bleu cheese, bacon, gochujang-pickled wild foraged ramps, arugula, duck fat mayo, and a black and white sesame bun, Hops’ Trumpet Burger was a hit.
“We were initially planning to sell a maximum of 10 burgers a day, because it was a pricey burger and it was also kind of weird,” said Bob Repp, executive chef of Hops at 84 East. “Right off the bat, we were selling 30, even 40, burgers a day. Our customer base was amazing with voting online. The overall response was great — I mean, Holland isn’t exactly an adventurous eating town, it’s growing, but people really came out for this burger.”
Because of the high demand, Repp struggled with sourcing his ingredients.
“I had to scramble to get the ramps in particular, because those are seasonal,” Repp said. “I actually ended up connecting with some foragers up in Mackinaw City that drove down to Cadillac and met me — we just opened up our trunks and traded.”
The burger’s popularity also allowed it to keep a spot on the menu.
“I plan on keeping it until sales slow down,” Repp said. “It’s been holding pretty steady. During the initial two months of the competition, it was our top-selling burger and it’s still in our top two pretty consistently — we run out of it all the time. We make them fresh every single day, and it takes a lot of prep work, but people are coming back for them.”
Winners of the blended burger competition received $5,000 each, and in October, they cooked their blended burgers at the historic James Beard House in New York City.