MUSHROOM HUNTERS JOURNEYED TO AN EL DORADO COUNTY FOREST BURN SITE IN SEARCH OF MORELS.
Photography by Francisco Chavira
The trick is to listen to Mother Nature, says mushroom forager and chef Tyler Bond, who with friend and fellow mushroom hunter Ryan Phillips traipsed into the woods of El Dorado County a few weeks ago on what Bond called a “quest for a magical patch of fruiting mushroom.” They were searching for morels, a spring and summer mushroom that turns up at lower elevations in early spring and at higher elevations as the season warms. Factors in growth include weather, ground trauma, canopy, terrain and seasonality, said Bond, who shares his foraging finds with other local chefs. He pointed out that mushroom hunting is not just about hiking and hunting for premium, elusive ingredients to eat and share; it’s also a way to get away from the daily grind and appreciate the outdoors—“an opportunity to find solace in nature,” he said. On this adventure, the guys ran smack into nature in the form of a mama bear running her two cubs up a tree. “These sightings are to be cherished,” said Bond. Later, in the kitchen at Lemon Grass Restaurant, where Bond has worked for the past three years, he turned the day’s morel bounty into an elevated version of the classic Thai soup tom kha: broth made from red curry, kaffir lime, lemon grass and ginger topped with grilled morels and asparagus, sprinkled with fried garlic, chili, shallot flowers, thyme flowers and Vietnamese herbs. Along with restaurateurs Billy Ngo and Michael Ng, Bond will open Chu Mai, a new restaurant on S Street, later this year.