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Forrest Mushroom Hunting

A photographer with a love of food talks to us about foraging with a star chef and the importance of knowing your mushrooms

If you follow fellow adventurist Jim Henkens on Instagram you will see glorious shots of things like paella for 200 in France, gnocchi with cacio e pepe and nettles in Seattle, and fireplace cooking with master chef Renee Erickson. Jim’s no stranger to the insider food community.

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For this story, we go (in spirit) to the town of Enumclaw, Washington, located in the foothills, just North of Mt. Rainier, about an hour and a half drive southeast from Seattle. 

Here’s what Jim has to say about his day in the woods hunting for chanterelles with rising star chef Taylor Thornhill, of Bateau in Seattle.

Foraging With One of Seattle’s Hottest Chefs

How does one end up in the forest with one of Seattle’s hottest chefs?

I am working on a cookbook for chef Renee Erickson, and we thought it would be a nice story to photograph one of her chefs foraging for the restaurant.

What surprised you most?

I’m really surprised by how absolutely quiet the forest is. There was no wind whatsoever, and there was nothing but silence. The other one was how many mushrooms we found — they were everywhere! Next time, I’d take a bigger basket; I filled mine up in 30 minutes!

The forest kitchen ©JimHenkens

Know Your Mushrooms

How well do you know your mushrooms? And how do you know you’re not getting a dangerous one?

If you are new at foraging I would absolutely recommend you go with an expert as there are so many poisonous mushrooms out there, some of which are fatal. Some cities in the US have places where you can take your mushrooms and they will tell you what kind they are and if they are safe to eat, so this is an option as well.

I’ve been out foraging with experts several times. In the spring we hunt for morels and in the fall, chanterelles. I know these two varieties really well and am 100% confident in my ability to identify them. I am definitely missing out on several other varieties that I am not confident about.

What is your favorite kind of foraging?

I’ve foraged for nettles, sea beans, clams, watercress, seaweed, huckleberries, blackberries, and miner’s lettuce. I haven’t foraged for wild asparagus and ramps yet, but I’d love to! Foraging in the Pacific Northwest is a big deal. It’s become really popular in the food community, and more and more restaurants are featuring wild foraged ingredients on their menus.

Mushrooms like flowers ©JimHenkens

Advice for a first-time mushroom hunter in Seattle?

If I wanted to go out foraging in Seattle but didn’t know anybody who could show me the ropes, I would contact Field Trip Society. They put together all kinds of really cool experiences, and foraging is one. They work with a local forager and writer named Langdon Cook and he takes groups out. He is definitely an expert.

Best Food Adventure

What’s your best food adventure so far?

As a food photographer I’ve been fortunate to be able to travel to a lot of amazing places for my work. I think the wackiest was Morocco. The night market in Marrakesh was mind blowing! My favorite thing to eat was the snails cooked in a broth of herbs and spices — so good! Also, the breads are incredible, all baked in 500-year-old wood-fired ovens!

“My love of photography came well before my love of food”

Which love came first for you, food or photography?

My love of photography came well before my love of food. I started my career as a fashion photographer and was fortunate enough to spend a year in Italy when I was just starting out. It was during that year that I developed a huge appreciation for good food and it has just grown from there.

A bigger basket next time ©JimHenkens

Is it true that we can all retreat with you in France?

Yes! We’ve started a new business called Maison du Fourchette. We have an online brocante (French for antique shop) and also produce and host trips to France. Our first trip was in a villa in Bonnieux, a small village in Provence. We spend our days touring around different villages, going to brocantes and produce markets, enjoying two-hour lunches with lots of rosé. Our evenings are all about cooking dinners together at the villa. Stay posted!

Jim shares his simple, delicious recipe for
Chanterelle Toast here.

About Jim Henkens
Jim Henkens is a culinary, travel, and lifestyle photographer based in Seattle. Jim began his career in Milan as a fashion photographer over twenty years ago, and has since developed an extensive client list including Sur La Table, Amazon, Nordstrom, Macrina Bakery, DeLaurenti, Starbucks, Harper Collins, Sasquatch Books, and Sea Creatures, as well as current book projects for James Beard award-winning chef Renee Erickson and Macrina Bakery.
Most recently, Jim also owned the much-loved Seattle-based culinary shop Marine Area 7, where he was able to showcase his love of finding beautiful, unique, and useful vintage treasures from around the world. Vintage copper pans, monogrammed silver, antique glassware, and French linens are just a few of the finds that have made their way back to Seattle thanks to Jim’s excellent sourcing. If you were lucky enough to grab a spot at one of the private dinners hosted in his shop after hours, you were definitely in for a special treat. Jim Henkens Instagram

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Patricia Garcia-Gomez
Patricia Garcia-Gomez
Patricia Garcia-Gomez is a writer and artist working with visual media and sound. She is the editor of Travel by Ageist and a contributor to the Discovery Channel, Travel Channel and The Private Journal (Europe). Her work is also part of the permanent archives of the Tate Modern, the Museum of Arts & Design in New York, the Buhl Collection, and The Harwood Museum in New Mexico.

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