When I was invited to attend Discover Southern’s VIP Shiitake Experience at Irwin Street Market, I was honestly a bit skeptical. I’ve never been a big fan of mushrooms, and I was wondering how an entire evening could be dedicated to celebrating a fungus.
This event, planned in conjunction with National Mushroom Day, provided me with the opportunity to taste organic, log-grown mushrooms for the first time. Hosted by Discover Southern, a food and lifestyle blog exploring the best of the South, the VIP Shiitake Experience completely changed my perception of mushrooms and their place in my diet.
Before the event, I was unaware that only 5% of the world’s mushrooms are log-grown. When you buy mushrooms at the supermarket, they are almost always grown on sawdust; this method is far inferior to log-grown mushrooms, which are richer in both nutrients and taste.
Where did these log-grown mushrooms at the event come from? 2FunGuys, an organization that seeks to bring the health and taste benefits of log-grown mushrooms to the public through affordable at-home solutions.
Founded by mushroom lovers Todd Pittard and Howard Berk, 2FunGuys sells mushroom logs through both wholesale and direct-to-consumer channels, allowing their customers to grow mushrooms in their own homes.
After suffering from cluster headaches for years, co-founder Todd discovered that eating mushrooms (not of the psychedelic variety!) eased his pain and provided a whole host of other health benefits. Now, both 2FunGuys founders are religious about incorporating log-grown mushrooms into the daily lives of themselves and their families. 2FunGuys donates 10% of total sales to Clusterbusters, a non-profit committed to cluster headache research and prevention.
The mushroom logs sold by 2FunGuys are both environmentally and financially conscious. While it takes about 4-6 months for the logs to initially yield any mushrooms, the logs can last up to 4-5 years, fruiting multiple times. With log-grown mushrooms running at around $20 per pound, the initial investment of $30-40 for the at home kit is well worth the return.
At the VIP Shiitake Experience, Atlanta chefs prepared a variety of incredible mushroom-based dishes, with ‘shrooms in each menu item supplied directly from 2FunGuys’s logs!
Check out the menu from the event:
Shroom Tea Cocktail
This cocktail from American Spirit Whiskey, combining sweet tea, vodka, and shiitake tincture, was both delicious and good for you. The tincture, which can take months to create, is a natural mushroom extract used for a variety of health benefits. Shiitake tincture is currently being tested for the treatment of HPV, as well as for building up the immune systems of cancer patients. Fun fact – both Todd and Howard of 2FunGuys take a spoonful of the tincture each day to stay healthy!
Fried Shiitakes and Hoisin Horseradish Sauce
Cooked to perfection by the 2FunGuys themselves, these fried shiitakes were served with both hoisin and tzatziki sauces for dipping. The dish is super easy to prepare, and would be great for a tailgate!
Coconut Shiitake Mushroom Soup
Jake Rothschild, owner of Jake’s Ice Cream at Irwin Street Market, showcased one of his favorite soup recipes in this creamy concoction. Jake even let it slip that he might be incorporating a mushroom ice cream flavor at his shop!
Italian Shiitake Mushroom Risotto
The star dish of the evening was undoubtedly Chef Matt Swickerath’s mushroom risotto, prepared in a live demonstration during the event.
Swickerath is the Executive Chef at Valenza, an upscale Italian eatery in Brookhaven known for their homemade pastas and risottos. In addition to moonlighting at sister restaurant Haven, Swickerath will be opening a rustic, Neopolitan-style pizza joint this fall called Vero.
Chef Matt provided his best tips and tricks for making the perfect risotto, as well as how to incorporate a variety of both staple and seasonal ingredients to spice up the simple dish. The risotto was rich and creamy, but easy and relatively quick to prepare.
Chocolate Truffles Dusted with Shiitake Powder
Prepared by Denise Romeo, founder of blog Discover Southern, these chocolate truffles were a huge surprise. The rich chocolate, supplied by Paul Thomas Chocolates of Dahlonega, GA, was a perfect yet unexpected pairing with the hint of earthy shiitake flavor. When I brought some of the leftover truffles to work, my co-workers were skeptical of tasting chocolate dusted with mushroom powder. However, when they actually tried the truffles, they were blown away!
At the end of the evening, one lucky guest was gifted their very own 2FunGuys shiitake mushroom log – and I happened to be the winner! Stay tuned for mushroom updates – I should have my very own batch by early spring!
Want to learn more about 2FunGuys and log-grown mushrooms? Check out their website, and attend their upcoming “make your own log” class on November 1st to learn about this incredible process.
Thanks to Denise Romeo of Discover Southern for hosting me at the VIP Shiitake Experience. Special thanks to 2FunGuys, American Spirit Whiskey, Jake’s Ice Cream, Valenza, and Irwin Street Market for a memorable evening!