Foraging for The Win: The Final Frontier of Ingredients
This talk is ideal for culinary professionals including culinary students, chefs, and the food service industry
The culinary world devours new ingredients. Obtaining those that others can’t easily locate is a competitive advantage for chefs and restaurants. Alan (the “Forager Chef”) takes you on a journey into the cutting edge of the culinary world—literally the final frontier of ingredients that he, a handful of chefs, and wild food authors are shedding light on including wild herbs, like kinome and galium, extremely obscure vegetables, like angelica and cow parsnip blossoms, hyper seasonal parts of plants we never knew we could eat, like the shoots of squash, unripe pumpkins, and young elm seeds, and a legion of leafy green plants history has forgotten. Alan shares stories of how he began to forage and the processes he went through serving his unique finds in restaurants. He shares the challenges, including sourcing, the cycle of wild food harvesters that inhibit chef access, and how we might break those cycles to share these things with the world.
The Grocery Store Outside: The Food We Overlook
This talk is ideal for those interested in farming/growing, including restaurants/bars
There is a world of food at our fingertips that we overlook and take for granted on a daily basis. With our current food system relying on conventional agriculture, we need to look at every angle we can if we’re ever going to attempt to feed more people with less inputs. A byproduct of searching for the finest ingredients for his restaurants was that Alan discovered the virility and extreme volume with which some particular plants grow, plants that are at our fingertips, and under our feet. We harvest corn and soy, but what if there were products we could harvest up to six times a year? It’s possible, and you don’t need a hobby farm to try out Alan’s ideas! A wide variety of people and organizations: community gardens, small farms, vegetable growers, restaurants/bars, thrifty eaters, vegetarians, and locavores will find great takeaways in this talk.
Tastemade – Foraged+Found
Forager Chef (Trailer, 2017)
ForagerChef: Lobster Mushroom Cakes
“Few chefs have the sort of culinary and field experience Alan does.” – Samuel Thayer, Founder of Foragers Harvest and Wildwood Products. Author of The Forager’s Harvest, Nature’s Garden, and Incredible Wild Edibles
“When the Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Department of Agriculture asked me to sit on a task force to help author the statewide certification class for wild mushroom foragers, sellers and buyers, my first call after accepting that appointment was to Alan. I asked him to join me on the task force since I felt his superior knowledge would be valuable to the process. He didn’t disappoint.” – Chef Leonard P. Russo seven time James Beard Nominee and Former Executive Chef/Owner of Heartland Restaurant, St Paul, MN Author of Heartland: Farm Forward Dishes from the Great Midwest
“Alan is my Yoda. He taught me everything I know about the kitchen, and the wild.” – Jeremy Bechtold, Executive Chef: The Happy Gnome, St. Paul MN
Alan Bergo is the Forager Chef, a leading authority on culinary uses of mushrooms and plants. Thousands follow his work at Forager | Chef – a website dedicated to wild food seasonal cooking and kitchen industry life – for tips on how to maximize what is available to us via the woods (and our backyards, too). The website started as a journal and evolved into a mycelium-like network of wild food authorities and mushroom hunters from around the world.
A Midwestern native, Alan worked for 10 years under Italian chefs and then served as sous chef to Lenny Russo at St. Paul’s 7-time James Beard nominee Heartland. He led two restaurants as executive chef of the Salt Cellar and then at farm to table cornerstone Lucia’s in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is a consultant on everything from foraging for unique restaurant menus to how mushrooms can be used for wild things like grain-free starch fabrication and even as a condiment.
Alan’s work has been featured in various print and visual media, including REI Coop, FOX, The Daily Beast, Heirloom Gardener, Experience Life Magazine, The Growler, The Heavy Table, Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine, and Women’s Health. His upcoming book titled “Forager Chef: Flora” is a study in rare and forgotten plants, herbs, vegetables, and culinary techniques.