Roman emperors used food tasters to make sure the fleshy, fruiting bodies of fungi—mushrooms, to you and me—were safe to eat. They come in more than 50,000 species. Only 2 percent or less are poisonous. Today, as never before, mushrooms are trending. Like kale before it, they are being touted and used by chefs and juice bars the nation over. And with good reason. Not only are mushrooms an excellent source of antioxidants, B vitamins and potassium, but they also add protein, texture and umami to plant-based dishes. Here is how a selection of hotel chefs is slicing, dicing and serving the fungus among us.
Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Most of us never hunt for wild mushrooms on our own, for fear of a tragic case of mistaken identity, but the forests of Western Canada are treasure troves of chanterelles, lobster mushrooms and other varieties. Fishing resorts such as this one in Great Bear Rainforest provide the foraging expert for guest ‘shrooming expeditions—and the soulful, mushroom-studded cuisine afterward.
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The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino, Las Vegas
Wild mushroom enchiladas wrapped in hand-pressed tortillas are a rave fave at Canonita, a stylish Mexican eatery along the resort’s Venetian canals. Mexico City-bred chef Daniel Marquez pairs them with slow-cooked borracho beans and poblano crema. Groups of 10 to 400 can enjoy these and other from-scratch creations in semiprivate and canal-view settings.
Pechanga Resort Casino, Temecula, California
At Lobby Bar & Grill, chef Jose Mendoza shows off his entry into James Beard Foundation’s Blended Burger Project. The Psycho Deli Burger is a blend of shitake and trumpet mushrooms from a local farm with beef, topped with beef-belly pastrami, Cotswold pub cheese, house-made pickles, Chinese cedar microgreens and a charred-onion thousand island dressing.
The Brown Hotel, Louisville, Kentucky
The Hot Brown is as much a Kentucky icon as bourbon and the Derby, and it was invented at this Louisville landmark nearly a century ago. The decadent creation—a bubbly hot, open-faced sandwich of roasted turkey on Texas toast topped by crispy bacon, tomato, pecorino Romano and Mornay sauce—can be ordered meatless with portobello mushrooms. Shhh…you have to ask.