Alan Bergo is a chef in Minnesota who is perhaps best known as a leading authority on the culinary uses of mushrooms and plants via his very popular website and blog “Forager Chef,” which is the largest resource on wild mushroom cookery on the web. His first book in his three part series, an exploration of wild plants, herbs, garden vegetables, nuts and starches titled: The Forager Chef’s Book of Flora, was just released in late June 2021 by Chelsea Green Publishing.
For Chef Alan Bergo, foraging is much more than an activity, it’s a mindset. In fact, hunting and gathering food is built into our DNA and connects every single person. In addition, Alan says that foraging is exciting and a rush, like “going on a scavenger hunt every day and then at the end, I get to eat.”
Alan talks about the creation and evolution of his very popular blog called “Forager Chef.” It started out as a journal and a way to jot down ideas. Nine years later after faithfully writing articles every single weekend, his website and blog have become the largest resource on wild mushroom cookery on the entire web!
Alan explains that there are 3 parts to his culinary world: plants, mushrooms, and meat. His new book focuses on plants, but there will be two more future books in this series. Alan refers to himself as a hunter of plants and mushrooms: “half Anthony Bourdain and half Indiana Jones.”
Alan talks about developing his foraging skills over time. He started small with a few species of mushrooms: it’s “not some crazy, unattainable thing, it’s more just a really exciting hobby… it’s a learned skill like anything else.” For anyone willing to learn, there are lots of resources out there from field guides to facebook groups.
Alan says that in America, we don’t have a tradition of eating wild plants. In fact, wild plants are often referred to as “weeds” that are inedible and dangerous. However, these so-called wild plants are a big part of cultures around the world, from the mountain vegetables of Japan and Horta in Greece to the spontaneous plants of Italy.
For Alan, foraging is a form of meditation. He speaks about how you lose track of time, forget about other things and enter a “flow” state. When he’s outdoors in nature, he feels as though he’s connecting with an ancient part of himself. Plus, he finds it very relaxing and rejuvenating.
In the end, Alan’s words of wisdom to his younger self: “don’t ever sacrifice your passion for anything.”
You can learn more about Alan, his book and his work right here: https://foragerchef.com/
You can also find him on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/foragerchef/