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Local Chef Competing in National Competition

Thursday, July 19, 2018 @ 12:07 AM

Posted by Andrew Bundy

Tara-TygerDuBOIS, Pa. (EYT) – Punxsutawney native Tara Tyger is entering a mushroom hamburger into a national competition. However, that burger is just one way she is trying to impact cuisine around the Tri-County Area.

Tyger has been at Doolittle’s Station for 10 years and is the head chef there. Her burger is entered in the James Beard Foundation’s Blended Burger Project. A chef needs to take 25% of the meat in a burger and replace it with mushrooms. That process was easy for Tyger, who came up with a unique way to serve nut loaf to a vegetarian friend.

“I had a friend who was a vegetarian and wanted to serve her something other than just the vegetable sides,” Tyger explained. “I sautéed the mushrooms in butter, added red wine and incorporated rice. It was very savory. We have it on the menu now because so many people like it. Vegetarians think we served them meat loaf because it tasted so much like meat.”

With that success, she rolled it into a burger, using the same technique.

Tara Tyger at the Depot at Doolittle’s

“Mushrooms are savory,” she said. “When you add that to the hamburger, it adds more flavor to the beef. The toppings we played around with. The first year we had no cheese. This year, we added chive blossoms, pickled zucchini, and cheese. We can get the zucchini locally here during the contest time period. Using local ingredients and doing it ourselves is something that I hope people judging the contest would look at favorably.”

The contest states that a selection of five chefs from the top 20 vote-getters will come to the James Beard House and cook their burgers. The burger was first entered three years ago. It is a tough competition for a burger in a small town as opposed to cities like Pittsburgh or New York.

“I would be really excited if I had the opportunity,” she said. “Every year, we get more votes. We have people coming to root for our little burger. It’s about the marketing and getting the votes.”

While getting to the James Beard House would be exciting, Tyger is focused on making a restaurant she enjoys dining in.

“I loved living in New York during my culinary school,” she said. “I traveled the metro and walked to school every day. I got to explore the city and all its neighborhoods. Food is my passion – you can explore food from all over the world. Living here, it was hard at first. There was not the variety of restaurants here that I had where I lived before. I love the local things I’ve found! We have some regional foods here that I try to showcase with the different Italian/German/Polish heritage.”

Recently, Tyger took a trip to Spain, Italy, and France. She tasted the food there. She said that she travels to explore both the place and the food.

“I read about food,” she said. “It would be my goal to bring world foods and different food experience to DuBois. We already bring some world foods to our menu. I still feel blessed to have this opportunity.”

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