Uncultivated tastes

How the flavors of nature are inspiring WAC menus

By Eric Floyd, WAC Executive Chef

If you’ve ever foraged for mushrooms,
dug for clams,
or even just picked blackberries on the side of the road, then you know how delicious the rewards of wild foods can be. For me, going deep into nature—often atop a knobby-tired dual-sport motorcycle—brings me to places few get to see. It also offers some much needed personal regeneration; keeps me in touch with the wonderful bounty of Pacific Northwest forests, rivers, and oceans; and sparks my inner culinary creativity.

Here at the WAC, we’ve been incorporating wild foods into our menus for years. When it comes to sourcing these ingredients, I work closely with Mikuni Wild Harvest. Mikuni’s focus on wild foods and longtime commitment to sustainable harvests has made them many restaurants’ go-to source for uncultivated ingredients.

The wild foods movement has been growing in popularity since at least 2010, when West Coast chefs began to publicize high-end multicourse dinners with ingredients such as wild artichokes, sea beans, and mustard that might otherwise be considered a weed. Of course, native peoples were using wild foods in the Americas almost exclusively thousands of years before Europeans showed up. So the movement is nothing new. It is, however, great fun!

Seafood lovers will most likely be well aware of the wild foods movement. As fish farms continue to face scrutiny, especially here in Washington state, more consumers seek wild-caught salmon, among other species. Anthony’s Seafood Co. has been a longtime WAC partner and sources only wild salmon. In fact, in WAC restaurants we never use farmed fish. For the past four years, we also have partnered with the Smart Catch program and committed to an even higher standard—100 percent use of sustainable seafood.

Whether you’re dining in one of the WAC restaurants or enjoying a catered meal at one of the hundreds of events that take place at the Club each year, you’ll find wild foods such as mushrooms, green onions, and Pacific salmon, to name just a few. If you’re interested in learning more about wild foods and how to find them, take a look at Langdon Cook’s seasonal advice for foraging in the Pacific Northwest, wac.net/langdon-cook.

No matter the season or bounty, I think you’ll find that wild foods push your culinary explorations and bring new life to your table.

—Reach WAC Executive Chef Eric Floyd at efloyd@wac.net.

As published in the January/February 2020 issue of WAC Magazine

—Posted December 20, 2019

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