Fancy a bit of foraged food?
With Forest to Fork, a specialty grocery store taking up residence at St. Paul’s forthcoming Keg & Case Market, novices and experts alike will have a place to supply their wild food needs. And here's something else super cool: Mpls/St. Paul Mag reports that this will be the state's first wild grocery store, and owner Mike Kempenich says it'll feature a grow chamber of its own specifically to cultivate varieties of wild mushrooms on site.
With the recent publication of Untamed Mushrooms by the Minnesota Historical Society Press and the opening of Forest to Fork, it feels like wild mushrooms are having something of a moment. At least for the wider population. For longtime foragers like Kempenich, excitement around wild 'shrooms is nothing new. He grew up hunting for them with his parents in Brooklyn Park, according to the mag, and after being laid off from his job as an executive recruiter, founded a company called Gentleman Forager.
In this capacity, he grows and/or forages for and sells wild mushrooms, wild greens, and other foods. And he’s also been an instructor at the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin, a writer and photographer for The Minnesota Harvester Handbook, and a member of the Wild Mushroom Advisory Committee (yes, this exists) with the Minnesota Departments of Agriculture and Health. He offers classes on foraging for mushrooms, too. (Good to have an expert so you don’t, you know… poison yourself.)
Once the store opens—in August or September, says Mpls/St. Paul—you’ll be able to stock up on not only mushrooms but other wild foods, such as nuts, berries, rice, greens, and more. And while you’re there, pick up some foraging books and supplies—you'll be amazed to learn what’s growing around you.
If you can’t wait until then, head over to the Wild Food Fandango on June 3 at Keg & Case. There, you can sample a variety of mushroom-focused dishes prepared by chefs from around the cities, listen to great live music, and sip some cocktails. A portion of the ticket proceeds will benefit the Huntington’s Disease Society of America.