What are wild food foragers?
“Foragers have an interest in all things edible and finding, tasting, testing, and tracking down wild edibles. Wild foragers like myself and my family develop an intimate relationship with the habits, habitats, and haunts of local flora and fauna. These relationships guide foragers in discovering – and respectfully gathering – delightful dainties and interesting new epicures.
I love bringing fresh, forage foods to local chefs – like Luke – knowing that every delivery spreads joy…
Joy for me: being in the woods and spending time with family.
Joy for chefs: creating new local cuisine.
Joy for diners: finding something new, fresh, and wholesome to excite the palate.”
– Andy Davis
Chef Luke on Andy Davis and Wild Food Foraging:
How did you meet Andy? How long have you been working with him?
Andy was already in place as the forager for Reserve when I started as a cook. He and Chef Matt Millar already had a relationship that I was happy to piggyback on. So, I have been working with Andy for 10 years now.
How many dishes do you usually have on the menu that include foraged ingredients?
This depends on the conditions of the year, and that’s part of the excitement. You can’t bank on anything, we are at the mercy of Mother Nature! But peak spring season we usually have around 5 dishes on our menu that feature Andy’s finds. His son’s gather violets that make it to most of the dishes we send out for a few short beautiful weeks.
What is your favorite foraged ingredient to work with?
The newest thing Andy’s found that I haven’t experienced yet, Redbud Blossoms. They are bright and tart,and the perfect first bite for a chef coming out of a long Michigan winter. But if I had to pick only one it would be the morel mushroom. They’re beautiful, such a unique shape and wonderful flavor. I also have nostalgia surrounding this fungi. Crisp Michigan spring mornings foraging with my Uncle Doug, so every time they enter the kitchen it takes me back to the woods with him.
What are you most looking forward to at the Foraging Dinner with Andy?
Watching Andy shine! We have been trying to get this dinner on the books for years now, and finally the stars have aligned and we’re ready to rock! My favorite aspect of working at Reserve are the personal relationships I am able to form with our purveyors, and Andy is no exception to that rule. We are more than just business partners, he’s a great friend of mine and I am so excited to see him in his element.
Andy Davis on Wild Food Foraging:
How did you get into foraging?
I was a city boy that could barely read, then an incredible book by Jean Craighead George. “My Side of the Mountain” fell into my hands and never left my head. It’s about a city kid that leaves home at 15 to survive on his own in the Catskills with nothing but his pocket knife and his wits. I was hooked. I collected field guilds and read Petersons “Wild Edible Plants” and studied Natural History right through a B.S. in Geology at WMU. After that the story gets more complicated and integrated. I got lucky, met good knowledgeable people and spent years literally walking thousands of miles through forests and fields. It’s surprising what you can learn just wandering around this lovely planet.
What is your favorite item to forage?
Anything that my wife Michelle finds exciting which, lucky for me, is often mushrooms.
Where do you forage in Michigan?
Everywhere! This state has everything. From the first blush of spring and the rush of sap in the trees, to the last falling beechnuts in the cool autumn breeze. My own backyard is often just fine.
Do you have tips for people who want to forage for themselves?
Yes, please take up another hobby. There is a definite inverse relationship between the density of dedicated foragers and the density of wild edible danties. Or, if you must, take the time to buy some good field guilds, spend long winter evenings lingering over the latin binomials, enjoy another cup of wintergreen tea and avoid taking shortcuts (YouTube). It also really helps to make friends with a good teacher.
What are you most looking forward to at the Foraging Dinner with Reserve?
Working and learning from Luke and the rest of his staff. Also, being part of a dinner presentation allows me to close the circle and see happy faces as food that was once the legacy of legend become; family.
Interested in our latest entrees that feature Andy’s foraged ingredients? View our menu here and then make a reservation. Join our mailing list to stay up to date with the latest from Reserve Wine & Food. You can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date.