The Executive Chef, David Schmidt, at one of Seacat Garden's customers in Sedona, L'Auberge de Sedona, apparently goes mushroom hunting a lot and tipped him off to this culinary loot.
Seacat has been wanting to find an alternative to imported mushrooms from Oregon at the Arizona farmers' markets. "My goal is to have freshly picked lobster and morel mushrooms at the market as opposed to bringing them in from out of state."
This week, on his first trip 140 miles north, he "only got 5 pounds" of these dense brightly colored mushrooms. Chef Schmidt, the expert, got closer to 80 pounds. Seacat says that the trick is knowing where they tend to grow and that they grow a bit underground.
It's tricky. "Not all of them are good - some are waterlogged," Seacat says. Only half of what he finds are in good shape. Once he collects the winners, he still has to drive back to Phoenix, clean them and get them out to his customers.
"It's a really dicey thing - because this isn't like growing stuff. This isn't plating seed and knowing I'll have lettuce in 30 days. I'm going out into the forest and I could get really lucky or I could get skunked. This is how we're going to do mushrooms, were going to forage and find Arizona mushrooms."
Right now, Seacat's hoping to search out these mushrooms weekly until it starts getting too cold and he's currently selling all of his mushrooms to his restaurant customers. We hope someday he'll bring them to the farmers' markets for the home cooks.
Earlier this summer, we shared news about berry foraging in Sedona.