In an article titled “Chefs Look for Wild Ingredients Nobody Else Has“, The New York Times mentions Castagna Chef Matthew Lightner –
Increasingly, in an era when truffles are farmed and Whole Foods sells fresh porcini, the ingredients that chefs seek are not the ones anyone can order; they’re the ones that few have ever heard of. They are the most unusual, not the most expensive. And even if they’re plentiful, they’re exclusive: you need either to know where to go and what to gather, or who to call.
While foraging isn’t new — ramps and purslane are becoming as much a part of seasonal eating as tomatoes and corn — this generation of ambitious chefs is finding a new level of inspiration outside the garden. Feral plants with names like toothwort, cornelian cherries, brown jug, creasy greens, sweet cicely, pineapple weed and licorice fern are traveling from the forest floor to the thin porcelain plates of restaurants like Eleven Madison Park, in New York City, and Alinea, in Chicago.
…at Castagna in Portland, Ore., white acorns are shaved over elk loin and root vegetables with a sauce made from vinegar infused with local juniper. The chef, Matthew Lightner, said that the dish presents the elk as it might be in the forest, rooting out nourishment.
“It’s the frontier,” Mr. Lightner said. “The woods are this mysterious area where things grow. You don’t have to tend to it, you don’t have to plant it, you just have to find it. Everybody is used to exotic products you ship in, or the farm-to-table thing. Now people have an interest when we serve them something they spotted when they were out on a hike.”