The Great Ohio Mushroom Odyssey

Once upon a time (one week ago), I was in Hawai'i. I'm now in the heart of America, Oh, Ohio. Here's the last shot of sunrise while heading to the airport.

Departing Honolulu.

LA at night.


Then I find myself waking up at my mothers house and my sister walking in with a baby duck.

I am part of an underground network of chefs in Cincinnati. Each time I come back to the Nati crossroads one of them has some sort of unique opporunity for me. This time around, Joe, invites me to the woods to go hunt for Morchellas. After a few days of hunting these delish mushrooms we come to the conclusion that it's too early. It needs to warm a bit and rain more, for at least the morels. I've been all over the Little Miami river and have found everything from box turtles to deer antlers to black snakes and black mushrooms on tree trunks.

It feels like a possum tooth.  

The hunter.

Along the banks of the Little Miami.

For the first few days in Ohio I explored the woods near the Little Miami river. No morchellas to be found.Then Joe asks me if I want to go look for them at the Seraphim Ranch, where he hangs with Chef Blake. The ranch kitchen could use a mushroom hunter he told me because they want to offer on the menu as many local ingredients as possible. The following day we take of to Seraphim. We got there in the night and he gave me a quick tour of the place. In the hunting shed I took a peak at one of the freezers and what did I see?

That night I got my first photo of lightning.

I swear he's from outer space.

Next morning.

So, what's Seraphim all about? It's a hunting lodge for some of the most notorious families in Cincinnati that have helped developed the city in one way or another... eg., the Lidners, McCoys, Castellini, etc. It's the most beautiful ranch I've seen in midwest. Thousands and thousands of acres of pristine cedar hills.

The bird dogs.

Soon to be the sunflower field.

Fruit trees.

Joe and I took off to the nearest 'town' to gather some manure for our project. Our project - grow as many kitchen-friendly plants as possible in the most eco-fashionable way. At the hardware store...

Back at the ranch, but at an entirely different cabin. The Bush Creek Cabin.

The tool shed.

The hunters lounge.

That ^ was awesome. Back to the farms.

Here's the plot we get to work with.

Some herbs and roots remain. Rosemary.


The bird fields.

Joe's new best friend.

We continued our hunt for morchellas, but still no luck. They're finding them in Kentucky, but not in Ohio. Most of the locals say they should be here in another week.

For a nice vegetarian lunch and JamaicaMe Crazy Coffee go to the Happy Turtle.

The herb gardens.

My first crop. A carrot.

If I were in Thailand or Peru these would be for dinner, but here in the States this is more of a means to catch fish.

Caught no catfish, but met a salamander.

Another morning. Not sure what day it is. I think it's April.

This is where I left off this morning.

Around noon I felt it was time to go back to my mom's place and get working on her gardens. I'm kind of in two or three or four places at once, but hey, at least I'm in one state, kind of.

My mother's backyard garden for the deer.

Tomorrow will be lots more of this and I'm excited. I'm not changing my career from Chef to Farmer, instead, I'm molding the two together. It's important to know where our food and medicine come from and to be part of the creation of the ingredients used in dishes is a great opportunity to build a good relationship with the Earth. No chemicals or heavy machinery, just rustic rig jobs and prayers that I have a green thumb.