Some chefs forage and some foragers cook. However I have yet to meet a professional chef that owns his own legitimate foraging company.
If you ask a forager at your local farmers market if the Chanterelles they're selling would go better with a Côtes du Rhône with duck breast, or Sauvignon Blanc with halibut, you probably get a solid "ehhhh". On the flip side if you ask a chef if a morel is mycorrhizal with a black poplar tree on a hill facing north, you'll probably get close to the same answer.....which is "yes" to all these questions. Many chefs aren't trained in foraging, at least not in the states. It's become a lost way of life to most chefs. And I'm not saying it's the chefs fault, not at all. Things like soil conditions, saprophytic mushrooms, how to properly harvest ramps, how to properly harvest anything is completely over looked in culinary schools. Most of the time a culinary student is trying to figure out why the hell they want to be a chef after the first semester. By the time they finally get to a point in their career where they start asking questions like, "were my mushrooms locally sourced, were my ramps sustainably harvested" that chef has little to no extra time to invest in learning something as tedious and time consuming as foraging. When a forager goes out to a new spot and doesn't find anything they usually have several reliable spots picked out that probably date back many years. So 6 hours lost isn't awful, because they know they have spots guarantee to produce. HOWEVER if a chef spends 6 hours in the woods and finds nothing, then has to go spend 10-12 hours in a professional kitchen it sucks! I can tell you that first hand.
And why would a forager want to be a chef? These guys would shrivel and die just like the wild goods the pick if you put them in a hot windowless kitchen with a bunch of people, unfortunately some who could care less about the product that the forager spent his whole day picking or digging up. Foragers are foragers for a reason, the out doors.
With knowing all that you maybe asking how I fit in to all this. Simple, I love the out doors and I love cooking and I refuse to have to sacrifice one for the other. Does it make the days a little harder and longer, damn right it does. As of now it's 12:18 am, I've been but since 6 am yesterday. I got up, went foraging, worked 12 hours then came home to write this post. I tell you this because I truly love it (also because I might be a little delirious).
So where does this all fit in to the general public? How does this effect you if you're reading this over in California, or Europe. Why does a chef, blogging in the DMV area, mean anything to you. Well here's why. By the end of this month Heritage Foraging will release its first line of products for sale. Ramp salt, dried hand picked wild mushrooms (pick by yours truly's hands), and a few other products will be ready for the world to try. Also I'll be releasing the first of a few micro cookbooks (20 recipes or so) for purchase on kindle that will give you some ideas on what to cook with both items you can forage and buy for Heritage foraging. Items should start coming online for purchase in the next couple weeks so start keeping your eyes out and I hope youre as excited as I am!