Fabulous Fungi: 25 Chefs on Their Favorite Mushrooms + the Dishes That Await You

It’s the swoon-worthy ingredient chefs use to flavor savory tarts and anchor seasonal veggie entrees. Mushrooms are to culinary professionals what Star Wars is to sci-fi fans. Simply sautéed in butter, white wine and garlic, or nestled within complex, exotic flavors, mushrooms are limited only by a chef’s imagination. And for diners who obsess over mushroom dishes, there is no shortage of creativity and choice at restaurants on OpenTable. We asked mushroom-obsessed chefs to weigh in on how they like to eat and prepare their favorite fungi. Here’s what they said.

Daniel Gorman of Henley, Nashville, Tennessee
“My favorite mushrooms are morels — and it is quite the year for them! They have a great earthy flavor with ridges that hold on to any incredible sauce. They are so versatile as well, great for sauces, stuffing, frying, sautéing, and even as just an elegant garnish. We use them everywhere in our menu at Henley and the dish I am in love with using them this year is our duck and dumplings. We are currently using white and green asparagus with sautéed morels — the perfect combination.” Make a reservation at Henley.

Marc Dym of Little River Inn Restaurant, Mendocino, California
“My favorite mushroom is the chanterelle because the flavor is so incredible, the mushroom is so versatile, and the chanterelle can be foraged almost any time of year in Mendocino County, where we have an annual Mushroom Festival. My favorite way to prepare it is in our wild boar and golden chanterelle ragu.” Make a reservation at Little River Inn Restaurant.

Rochelle Daniel of Fat Ox, Scottsdale, Arizona
“King trumpets are a versatile, underutilized mushroom that’s available year-round and reasonably priced. They’re a bit larger with a density that holds up to most dishes and cooking methods, including grilling. King trumpets are savory and mild, so they’re a great vehicle to convey the flavors you want. We use them in multiple dishes at Fat Ox, including our hokkaido diver scallops, and crispy skin salmon entrees as well as our Rosso Crest di Gallo pasta and the Rosewood Ranch skirt steak tagliata. To prepare trumpets, we cut them in half and score them, so they hold more sauce, sear in a pan with tallow fat and garlic purée. Then we deglaze with Grand Marnier, chicken stock or veal stock, amd then finish it with butter and sherry vinegar.” Make a reservation at Fat Ox.

Miheer Shete of Jump, West Toronto, Ontario
“Our mushroom lasagna dish is completely focused on different types of mushrooms, all of which have different textures. We have used five types of mushrooms in this and the filling is a take on mushroom duxelles. The mixture is made with different types of mushrooms, shallots, garlic, thyme, white wine, and cream and blended to a coarse, meat sauce-like consistency. We use six layers of pasta sheets and every layer features the mushroom mixture, buffalo ricotta, parmesan cheese, and honey. On the top layer, we finish the lasagna with a white truffle cream sauce, which gives the dish a tiny hint of truffle flavour.” Make a reservation at Jump.

Matt Sigler of Il Solito, Portland, Oregon
“I opt for the humble cremini mushroom to lend an earthy, umami flavor and meaty texture to my braised chicken thigh Marsala. Pan sautéing is one of my favorite ways to get flavor and texture out of mushrooms. I quarter them, rather than thin slicing, so that they don’t get lost in the sauce and are a nice contrast to the velvety polenta. The menu is a nod to nostalgic dishes I grew up eating. This Marsala, in particular, reminds me of a dish my uncle used to make with portabellas, white Worcestershire, sour cream, and lots of black pepper – despite many efforts to recreate the dish by my dad, Uncle Pat’s was always the best.” Make a reservation at Il Solito.

Jesus Delgado of Tanta, Chicago, Illinois
“I serve a vegetarian take on one of my favorite classic Peruvian dishes, pastel de choclo, or corn cake. Traditionally made with corn pudding and layered with meats, my version features sautéed brown beech mushrooms, one of my favorite types, due to their rich flavor and texture, to provide the meatiness. The dish is layered in a small casserole dish and baked and finished with sautéed choclo, the large-kernelled corn from Peru. As a native of Lima, this dish brings back wonderful childhood memories for me.” Make a reservation at Tanta.

Mathieu Masson-Duceppe of Jellyfish, Montreal, Quebec
“I combine lobster mushrooms, burrata, truffles, and meat caramel. I’ve said before veggies are cool and I love working with mushrooms. This week, it’s lobster mushrooms. We cook them always differently — smoked, pickled, seared, grilled and every way in between, depending on our inspiration.” Make a reservation at Jellyfish.

William S. Dissen of The Market Place, Asheville, North Carolina
“Maitake, otherwise known as hen of the woods mushroom, is meaty with an almost seafood crunch. Even people who don’t enjoy mushrooms usually like it and the quality is consistent. Our gratin recipe, including wild onions, is one of our best-selling appetizers. We have a partnership with a local tour company, No Taste Like Home led by Alan Muskat, that takes guests foraging, and we cook up whatever edibles they find. If it’s other edible mushrooms like chanterelles, we use them in the dish instead.” Make a reservation at The Market Place.

Austin Sumrall of White Pillars, Biloxi, Mississippi
“In the South, we have the great blessing of the ability to grow some of the best mushrooms in the world. I love to take advantage of what nature offers and have traveled to my family’s farm just outside of Liberty, Missouri, hunt for chanterelles. We would gather arm loads of the delicate beauties. One of our favorite ways to prepare them was a quick sauté with shallots, thyme, and butter on a crostini with goat cheese. Chanterelle season is very short and sweet, some say more of a moment than a season. In the White Pillars, we turn to mushroom cultivators, such as Tony and Leilani Rosenbaum of Shroomdom Farms. We use their mushrooms in our wood-fired flatbread with oyster mushrooms, Benton’s country ham, arugula, and housemade burrata cheese. And we are also serving them grilled with our beef filet, jumbo asparagus, heirloom carrots, and a hollandaise espuma.” Make a reservation at White Pillars.

Steven Mikulski of Pot au Feu Bistro, Providence, Rhode Island
“As Rhode Island’s only certified mushroom expert, people come to Pot au Feu Bistro in Providence for my soupe aux champignons. I work with fungi using their proper names based on the season incorporating craterellus fallax (black trumpets), boletus edulis (porcini), hydnum umbilicatum (hedgehog), agaricus bisporus (button), grifola frondosa (hen-of-the-wood), pleurotus ostreatus (oyster mushroom), and hericium erinaceus (lion’s mane).” Make a reservation at Pot au Feu Bistro.

Clark Barlowe of Heirloom Restaurant, Charlotte, North Carolina
“I am probably best-known for my passion for wild mushrooms, having worked extensively with the state of North Carolina to develop a wild mushroom program for restaurants in the state. My favorite mushrooms to work with are lactarius indigo or blue milk mushroom, from which we make an ice cream that tastes like birthday cake. I also really enjoy the hericium erinaceus mushroom, more commonly known as lion’s mane mushroom, a fungi studied and found to regenerate dead brain cells in use to treat dementia and Alzheimer’s patients at Johns Hopkins University. At Heirloom Restaurant, we make vegetarian patties out of it. These mushroom cakes taste almost identical to crab and we refer to them as our ‘lightning cakes’ because this mushroom only grows on trees that have been struck by lightning.” Make a reservation at Heirloom Restaurant.

Albert Nguyen-Phuoc of VERGE, Los Gatos, California
“My favorite mushroom dish served at VERGE is the wild mushroom cobbler, including seasonal mushrooms, Humbolt Fog goat cheese, parmesan, cream, and fresh biscuit topping. When people talk about cobbler they think about sweet dessert. I then realized I could create a savory cobbler dish using California’s variety of year-round mushrooms, including shiitake, oyster, and cremini mushrooms mixed with a nice Humboldt Fog goat cheese to give it an earthy flavor.” Make a reservation at VERGE.

Richard Sandoval of Tamayo, Denver, Colorado
“I love cooking with huitlacoche, a Mexican truffle and delicacy used in all sorts of dishes from soups to enchiladas to sauces. Huitlacoche, or corn smut, has a soft and velvety taste that is unlike any other ingredient. I make a roasted corn soup with a huitlacoche dumpling and a huitlacoche vinaigrette with huitlacoche, white wine vinegar, and canola oil, seasoned with salt and pepper.” Make a reservation at Tamayo.

David Morales of Naked Crab, Fort Lauderdale Beach, Florida
“I prepare a wild mushroom cappuccino using various mushrooms including organic hon-shimeji white beech mushrooms, organic hon-shimeji brown beech mushrooms, maitake mushrooms, royal trumpet mushrooms, almond milk, heavy cream, butter, salt, and pepper.” Make a reservation at Naked Crab.

Scott Hensley of Cascadia, Portland, Oregon
“I prepare a mushroom tart, which features product from local Jacobsen Salt Company, which harvests the salt here in Oregon on Netarts Bay. The salt flakes are broad and noticeable and have a satisfying crunch with a briny finish, and for the mushrooms, I use wild mushrooms plentiful in Oregon. I have harvested king boletus, chicken-of-the-woods, oyster mushrooms, and, everyone’s favorite, yellow foot chanterelles while mountain biking near Cascade Head, all of which are delicious in this recipe. For the pinot, I like Sokol Blosser Oregon Pinot Noirs and Ani Che Cellars for Bordeaux varietal.” Make a reservation at Cascadia.

John Russ of Clementine, Castle Hills, Texas
“Common mushrooms are often overlooked for the more exotic varietals, but, when fresh, white mushrooms are delicious and flavorful. The white mushroom salad at Clementine has a special place in my heart as I frequently ate it while growing up in New Orleans. It’s one of my go-to mushroom dishes as it’s simple to make and is always a massive crowd pleaser to the point where it converts non-mushroom lovers. We toss fresh, thinly shaved white button mushrooms with extra virgin olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon juice (preferably Meyer), finely chopped parsley, thinly sliced red onion, thinly sliced red radish, pomegranate jewels, lemons cut into segments (minus the skin and pith), salt, and pepper with some shaved Pecorino cheese over the top prior to serving.” Make a reservation at Clementine.

Jehangir Mehta of Graffiti Earth, New York, New York
“I use a mix of portobello, shiitake mushrooms, and Angus beef to create the sumptuous Graffiti burger.  More than 30 percent of the burger is made up of mushrooms, which lend umami and moisture to the burger while cutting down on the animal protein. With a focus on creating sustainable food at Graffiti Earth, I love to use mushrooms given that mushroom production uses only 1.8 gallons of water for one pound of mushrooms compared to beef which uses 300 to 500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. Mushrooms also grow in all 50 states resulting in less transport and gas emissions and grow in stacked beds creating less waste in production. We as Americans on average consume 110 grams of protein a day with a majority coming from animal consumption — almost twice as much as we need. At least 50 percent of protein should come from vegetables, so the Graffiti Burger is another way to get more veggie protein in our diets.” Make a reservation at Graffiti Earth.

Ryan Bloome of Terrain Garden Café, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania
“At Terrain, we really focus on sourcing all of our ingredients locally from purveyors and farmers native to our area. Being that we’re located right in the heart of mushroom country, it’s no surprise that one of our signature dishes – and a customer favorite – is a creamy mushroom soup that you can find on the menu nearly all year long. It has an earthy flavor that’s simple, delicious, and really speaks to our connection to the community and local farmers. Our location means that I have the privilege of working with all varieties of mushrooms so it’s not easy to pick just one as my favorite! One dish we added this past spring was a crispy maitake small plate with sprouted lentils and pickled ramp relish, which quickly became a favorite.” Make a reservation at Terrain Garden.

Jose Martinez of Tuscany Gardens–Tuscany Suites & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada
“I love mushrooms of all sorts. If I had to choose just one, it would be wild, foraged morels. They are amazing simply sautéed in butter with fresh cracked pepper and sea salt. Stuffed mushrooms are my favorite mushroom dish to prepare as our guests just love them! The firm, meaty texture of the mushrooms is quite satisfying and their earthy flavor stands up to the bold, rich Italian sausage, fresh herbs and the complexity of the sauce. Stuffed mushrooms are always a lovely way to start the meal, especially with your favorite cocktail or wine.” Make a reservation at Tuscany Gardens.

Graham Dodds of Scout at The Statler, Dallas, Texas
“I utilize my favorite mushroom, cremini, in a vegetarian offering at Scout called the mushroom Sloppy Joe. We use the cremini mushrooms in substitution for meat in this classic dish, accompanied by shredded white cheddar and served with a side of butter fries. I prefer cremini mushrooms because of their unique texture and flavor and the affordable price point we pass on to our guests.” Make a reservation at Scout at The Statler.

Bryan Brown of Bourbon Steak Orange County, Dana Point, California
“Crimini, shiitake, and king trumpet mushrooms are my favorites to cook with because crimini and king trumpet add a meaty texture, while shiitake mushrooms offer a more delicate texture. Together, they’re a trifecta of earthy flavor. I use this trio in a popular side dish, mirin, and soy-glazed mushrooms, searing each variety individually in grapeseed oil. The cremini mushrooms sear the longest and are left to slow-roast in a brown butter sauce, releasing their earthy juices. Once all the juice reduces, I add the mirin and white shoyu to enliven the dense earthy flavor of the mushrooms with bright acidity.” Make a reservation at Bourbon Steak Orange County.

Andrew Chadwick of Sea Glass at Inn by the Sea, Cape Elizabeth, Maine
“The torchon of mushroom is fun to create. When you think of torchon, the first thing that comes to mind is foie gras, right? But we don’t serve foie gras at the Inn by the Sea or in Sea Glass restaurant as we have been travelling a green path for 18 years. I borrowed the foie gras approach to flavors and technique from the original dish and created a vegan torchon vegan everyone can love and enjoy. I started with mixed wild mushrooms and sautéed them with shallot garlic and thyme, deglazed with Madeira wine and brandy, added almond milk, and reduced. I use agar agar to set the consistency and plastic wrap to roll the mixture into a cylinder and chilled until it set up. Once fully chilled, we cut the torchon.” Make a reservation at Sea Glass at Inn by the Sea.

Matthew Batey of Teatro, Calgary, Alberta
“Our mushrooms ‘cafe au lait’ dish with Comte and mint features the best in seasonal wild mushrooms, and as the season changes the dish does, too, with wild mushrooms like pine, chanterelle (both yellows and whites), morels, and lobster. The best time of year for this dish is when the seasons cross over and we can include as many of the varieties as we can find as each one has its own great flavor profile. We sauté the mushrooms in butter with a brunoise of shallots and deglaze with a splash of Cognac and Sherry vinegar, add some cream, and finish it with a nice rich jus. I love to add herbs as the mushrooms come off the stove and mint and chives are my go-to for this. We serve the mushrooms on a piece of grilled bread and finish with a healthy shave of Comte. At Teatro, a nice light ‘air’ gets placed on to the mushrooms, which is a rich chicken stock fortified with Comte cheese rinds.” Make a reservation at Teatro.

Salvatore Marcello of Mamo Restaurant, New York, New York
“My favorite mushroom is the truffle. This elegant and indulgent ingredient is perfect for Mamo, which prides itself on being a purveyor of an affectionate Italian and Provençal dining experience. We highlight truffles in multiple ways on the menu, with the most popular item on the menu being our truffle pizza.” Make a reservation at Mamo.

Phillip Kirschen-Clark of The Milling Room, New York, New York
“I like to braise morel mushrooms with shallots, green garlic, cognac, and cream. Then I serve them with housemade cavatelli pasta, fresh fava beans, parmesan, and a touch of sherry vinegar. We have a forager in Oregon who provides our mushrooms fresh for our menu.” Make a reservation at The Milling Room.

Have you sampled any of these mushroom dishes? Tell us here or over on FacebookG+InstagramPinterest, or Twitter. And, remember to snap + share your #dishpics with us on Instagram for a chance to win in our weekly giveaway.

Kelly Merritt is an author and freelance journalist specializing in culinary travel. Follow her on Twitter @kellywrites + Instagram @kellymerrittwrites + Facebook at KellyMerrittWrites.

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