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Foraged & Found

Delectable collectibles

With more and more interest in using local product and the freshest of the fresh, foraged items have become the holy grail for restaurants and farmers markets. We went to a Northwest source, Jeremy Faber of Foraged & Found Edibles, to get some detail. He started the business in 2001 with Christina Choi, a fellow chef, who moved on to start her own restaurant, Nettletown, in the Eastlake neighborhood.

SD!: How did you get started doing this?

JF: I've always loved the woods and was a forestry major at the University of Vermont, but never completed my degree. I then got a culinary degree from the Culinary Institute of America, then moved to Seattle. I was picking for restaurants I was working in and slowly started doing more and more. After taking some time off to travel, I came back to a great spring picking morels and have never stopped. Since I'm in the Northwest, it just seems right to combine my two careers.


Morels

SD!: Where did you cook when you were a chef?

JF: The Herbfarm, Bandoleone, Brasa, Supreme.

SD!: What do you primarily forage?

JF: I forage all sorts of stuff: Miners lettuce, sea bean, mushrooms, berries, wood sorel, fern, stinging nettle, Washington black truffle, medicinals (elderflower, madrone bark, rosehips, vanilla leaf). There's a full list on our website.

SD!: Who are your customers?

JF: I sell to 80 or so restaurants in Seattle and I started a warehouse in New York City this year and ship to other restaurants across the country. I also do 3-4 farmers markets per week.

SD!: How do you find your customers, or do they find you?

JF: I have lots of contacts through mutual friends. For restaurants, we look up their menus to see if they use this kind of product, then drop off product guides and/or call.

SD!: Where do you forage?

JF: Mostly in Washington. Some foraging is done in California during winter. Every once in awhile, we'll forage in Montana, British Columbia, Oregon and Idaho in spring.

SD!: With your culinary background, do you favor eating these items plainly, creating dishes around them or adding them to familiar dishes?

JF: I like them best simply used, but I don't eat mushrooms on a regular basis.

SD!: Are you finding that the demand for foraged items is increasing or staying about the same?

JF: It's increasing, especially for items that I solely harvest and have developed a market for.

SD!: Is it doable to handle increased demand or is there a natural limit on what you can find?

JF: There is a natural limit on a lot of stuff, especially for quality. Some mushrooms have good years where supply is greater than demand, which is why I dry a lot of product some years.

SD!: Do you grow any of your products yourself or forage in the wild only?

JF: Only wild.

SD!: With the increasing interest in foraged items, it seems like there are more foragers. Does that create problems in terms of everyone bumping into each other or does everyone have their own foraging areas?

JF: There really aren't any problems. Amateurs do not go very far and with gas prices this year, I think the opposite will happen: fewer people will be foraging.

SD!: What's the most interesting item you've ever foraged:

JF: Nothing is overly interesting, but there are some mushrooms I love to find and pick: blue chanterelle, black trumpets, cauliflower.

Photo: blue chanterelle

SD!: What's the most popular item you forage?

JF: Morels, porcini, nettles and miners lettuce have huge demand.

SD!: Any interesting stories about foraging you'd like to share?

JF: There are just too many! Weather, getting stuck, hiking 30 miles a day, dealing with the Forest Service...


If you'd like more information on Forged & Found Edibles, check their website: www.foragedandfoundedibles.com. 866-951-1031.

Contact Jeremy at jeremy@foragedandfoundedibles.com.

For sales, contact Jonathan Julia at jonathan@foragedandfoundedibles.com.

Photo: stinging nettle 

Connie Adams/2009


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