USA Today has highlighted foraging as a major 2014 food trend, and gathered the input of well-seasoned foragers from across the country for insight into the practice of finding wild mushrooms, lettuces, herbs and other fare.
Chef David Kinch, Manresa, Los Gatos, Calif.
Kinch scours the California coastline and lush country near his Los Gatos restaurant, and is able to use wild ingredients in his dishes to create a flavor profile that has earned him two Michelin stars for five straight years. Kinch strives to find ingredients that his customers probably haven’t tasted, including pine needles, flowering cacti and wild onions.
Chef Eddy Leroux and Tama Matsuoka Wong, Daniel, New York, N.Y.
A financial services lawyer-turned-naturalist, Wong has developed a palate for wild ingredients, and when Leroux made it a point to meet Wong while she dined at his restaurant, their introductions blossomed into a business relationship. Now, Wong is Leroux’s head forager. She lugs bags of lettuces, grasses, herbs and flowers from farms and other undeveloped areas into the city by subway to provide Leroux with the freshest of ingredients.
Chef Bowman Brown, Forage, Salt Lake City, Utah
With the trails and natural areas surrounding Salt Lake City at his reach, Brown spends plenty of mornings finding greens and garnishes for his award-winning menu. Ingredients like Indian parsley, wild garlic, wild onions and pepper grasses expand the flavor profile of his dishes while connecting them to the surrounding land.
Chef Iliana Regan, Elizabeth Restaurant, Chicago, Ill.
Regan learned the art of distinguishing edible ingredients from commonplace weeds during long forages with her Dad. With sustainability and environmentalism at the forefront of Regan’s mind, Elizabeth sells tickets rather than taking reservations, allowing time for planning.
Chef Blaine Wetzel, The Willows Inn, Lummi Island, Wash.
On foraging days, Chef Wetzel gets up before dawn and drags out his kayak to explore the coastline of Lummi Island and shallow waters for wild seaweed, sea lettuce and various shoots that he can use in the kitchen at night.