16 January, 2021, 17:43

Newly-installed “fruiting chamber” brings rare & unique mushrooms to “Feast”

"Rethinking the mushroom supply chain in the U.S. by decentralizing the fruiting process"

Now, I wouldn’t be a fungi if I didn’t insert at least one pun about mushrooms in this article. However, I won’t spore you with my lame jokes and I’ll get to the details instead. Although, eventually the puns might grow on you, if you know what I mean.

Owner and chef of Feast, Doug Levy, has teamed up with University of Arizona student, Justin Chung, to grow their very own mushrooms at the midtown restaurant.

Mushroom chamber at Feast

Photo courtesy of Feast on Facebook

With what he’s learned so far at the Controlled Environment Agriculture Center (CEAC) and the help he’s received from local company Desert Pearl Mushrooms, Chung has been able to grow different types of fungus in their desired environments by controlling temperature, humidity, lighting, C02, and many other things.

His main goal is to apply everything he’s learned to urban agriculture while growing peculiar mushrooms inside a fruiting chamber that’s currently installed inside Feast.

“My focus is on specialty mushroom production,” said Chung, “which can be defined as growing mushrooms that are not Agaricus bisporus, colloquially known as white button, crimini, or portobello mushrooms. That species accounts for 90 percent of U.S. mushroom production. Instead, my focus is growing specialty mushrooms that are much more delicate and have a shorter shelf life.”

With that being said, you can expect new and unique dishes like Grilled Lamb Loin with Chestnuts. It’s served with a ricotta-beet agnolotti, red Russian kale, and the Blue Oyster mushrooms seen below.

Ideally, Chung and the other team members involved with the New Venture Development program want to build a network of “distributed farms” throughout Tucson, installing mushroom fruiting chambers inside more restaurants, grocery stores, and cafeterias — basically anywhere that makes sense.

“The mushroom production is unique,” said Chung. “The first 95 percent of the production process can be done in a central location, and the last five percent can be done on-site.”

Historically, chef and owner Doug Levy has had a long-standing relationship with the mushroom program at CEAC, and it’s exciting to imagine what he’ll create next in the kitchen.

In conclusion, you may be asking yourself how much room you’ll need to make in your stomach before trying these new dishes at Feast. I’d say as mushroom as possible.

Feast is located at 3719 E. Speedway Blvd. For more information, visit eatatfeast.com.

At a very young age, Matt was gifted with the artistic ability to masterfully roll a burrito to the highest of standards.

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