Featured Photo: A mushroom burger slider from Blue Southern Comfort Foods. Photo by Jim Noetzel.
Say what you will about Carolyn Huggins Simmons, chef and owner at Blue Southern Comfort Foods in Shreveport, but you cannot knock her hustle. Presently unfolding is one of the most exciting and outright entertaining food-related stories of the year, at least among the stories that I’ve heard. According to rankings released on the afternoon of July 28, Simmons’s restaurant, located at 1173 Louisiana Avenue in Shreveport, is ranked #4 in the U.S. among restaurants that are competing in the prestigious James Beard Foundation‘s #BetterBurgerProject hamburger competition. The top five chefs will be invited to New York City to prepare the winning “Better Burgers” at the James Beard House. In the cooking community, being invited to cook at the James Beard House is an honor and a privilege, and has the ability to transform careers.
The #BetterBurgerProject asks that participating chefs introduce a new burger to their menu which blends the traditional burger patty with finely chopped mushrooms, resulting in a burger that is healthier and more environmentally sustainable. You can learn more about the “burger blend” being promoted by this contest here. Simmons’s take on the mushroom burger is fantastic, and can be sampled now at the restaurant. A full-sized mushroom burger is $8. If you agree to post a photo of the burger on Instagram and include the hashtags #BetterBurgerProject and #BlueSouthernComfortFood (you’ll also need to mention Simmons’s Instagram handle, @chugs08), you can get mushroom burger sliders for $1 apiece.
Here’s the crazy part: Simmons recently got married. Because she was busy planning a wedding, getting married, and honeymooning, she didn’t really begin to promote her involvement in this competition until mid-July. The competition started on Memorial Day. Every other restaurant in the competition had a 45-day head start on Blue Southern Comfort Foods, but Blue is beating the odds and coming “from out of nowhere” for a top-five finish.
The competition ends on July 31. How amazing would it be to see the chef from a local barbecue and burger joint in Shreveport’s funky Highland neighborhood be fêted at the James Beard House? If you’re an Instagram user and are at all inclined to support this local business, please stop by Blue and try their fantastic “better burger.” I’m not a big fan of most mushrooms, and this was one of the better-tasting burgers I’ve eaten in Shreveport. Go, Blue, go!
Blue Southern Comfort Foods will be open for lunch and dinner, until 8 p.m. or later, until the competition ends at midnight on July 31.