Oct. 19, 2022

Foraging, Transplanting Ramps, and Snail Farming with Clark Barlowe

Foraging, Transplanting Ramps, and Snail Farming with Clark Barlowe

Clark Barlowe is a seventh-generation North Carolinian. Growing up learning how to hunt ginseng with his grandfather, Clark learned to look at the plants around him for the potential nutrients and delicious ingredients that they held while respecting their limitations and responsible foraging. 

He was formally trained as a chef at Johnson and Wales University. After stages at The French Laundry and El Bulli, followed by positions at Chez Pascal and Clyde’s Restaurant Group, Clark refined his expertise for preparing and respecting ingredients. While chef-owner of Heirloom Restaurant in Charlotte, NC from 2014-2019, Clark supported over 70 small businesses and producers throughout North Carolina, while supplying the restaurant with only NC-based ingredients. After selling Heirloom in December 2019, and moving to his new home in Oregon, Clark is carrying this vision forward as he works to increase knowledge about how to bring the beautiful work of mother nature to your table, while respecting every potential part of each ingredient.

On the show, we discuss foraging, cultivating mushrooms, transplanting ramps, and snail farming. Clark is currently attending law school and we talk about how he might potentially combine the two fields such as in food and farming policy. He also discusses foraging for, and preparing some items that contain toxins, such as pokeberries.

Clark is trained in this area. If prepared incorrectly, you could become very ill, or in some cases die. Please do not take this as an endorsement to try cooking and eating pokeweed, pokeberries, or mushrooms without being properly trained in that area.


CLARK BARLOWE
Clark’s Website Potential Pantry
Clark's Instagram
Saveur article on Poke
"What is a Chef?" episode

CHEFS WITHOUT RESTAURANTS

If you enjoy the show, and would like to support it financially, check out our Patreon, or you can donate through Venmo or Buy Me a Coffee

Get the Chefs Without Restaurants Newsletter

Visit Our Amazon Store (we get paid when you buy stuff)

Private Facebook group

Chefs Without Restaurants Instagram

Founder Chris Spear’s personal chef business Perfect Little Bites

Sponsor- The United States Personal Chef Association
Over the past 30 years, the world of the personal chef has grown in importance to fulfill those dining needs. While the pandemic certainly upended the restaurant experience, it allowed personal chefs to close that dining gap.  Central to all of that is the United States Personal Chef Association.
 
USPCA provides a strategic backbone for those chefs that includes liability insurance, training, communications, certification, and more. It’s a reassurance to consumers that the chef coming into their home is prepared to offer them an experience with their meal.

Call Angela today at 800-995-2138 ext 705 or email her at aprather@uspca.com for membership and partner info.

Transcript

Welcome to Chefs Without Restaurants. I'm your host, Chris spear. On this show. I have conversations with culinary entrepreneurs and people in the food and beverage industry working outside of a traditional restaurant setting. Today I have Clark Barlowe, and before we get going, I want to give a little disclaimer. We're going to talk a lot about foraging today. Carl is going to talk about cooking and eating some things that have some toxins in them. He talks about making a poke berry juice. He also talks about some mushrooms that you have to cook to get the toxins out. He is a trained professional. I don't want you just going out there picking and cooking random things. This can be very dangerous, you could even die. So this is just my disclaimer to say please, please, please make sure you know what you're doing. Okay, so, Clark is a seventh generation North Carolina and who grew up hunting ginseng with his grandfather. He was formally trained as a chef at my alma mater Johnson and Wales University. After massages at the French Laundry and elBulli followed by positions that shape has Kyle and Clyde's Restaurant Group, Clark refined his expertise for preparing and respecting ingredients. Wall chef owner of heirloom restaurant in Charlotte, North Carolina from 2014 to 2019. Clark's supported over 70 small businesses and producers throughout North Carolina while supplying the restaurant with only North Carolina based ingredients. After selling heirloom in December 2019 and moving to his new home in Oregon, Clark is carrying this vision forward as he works to increase knowledge about how to bring the beautiful work of mother nature to your table while respecting every potential part of each ingredient. On the show, we obviously discuss foraging. Let's talk about cultivating mushrooms transplanting ramps to the west coast and snail farming clerks currently attending law school and we talked about how we might potentially combine those two fields such as in an area like food and farming policy. And again, we do talk about cooking some interesting things like Polk berries. A couple episodes back I released my what is a chef episode with Clark. So if you haven't checked that out, please go back. I think it's two or three episodes back that way. And as always, I love to connect with my listeners. So find me on Instagram at Chefs Without Restaurants. And if you go to chefs without restaurants.org You'll find links to all of our most popular things like the free Facebook group where we're helping other food entrepreneurs build and grow their businesses. You can sign up for our newsletter and enter your info into our database, which helps personal chefs caterers and food truck operators get more gig leads, and the show wouldn't be possible without our sponsors. So the episode will be coming up after a word from this week's sponsor the United States personal chef Association. Over the past 30 years, the world of the personal chef has grown in importance to fulfill those dining needs. While the pandemic certainly upended the restaurant experience, it allowed personal chefs to close that dining gap is central to all of that is the United States personal chef Association, representing nearly 1000 chefs around the US and Canada. You SPCA provides a strategic backbone to those chefs that includes liability insurance, training, communications, certification and more. It's a reassurance to consumers that the chef coming into their home is prepared to offer them an experience with their meal. USPTA provides training to become a personal chef through our preparatory membership. Looking to showcase your products or services to our chefs and their clients. partnership opportunities are available. Call Angela today at 1-800-995-2138. Extension 705. Or email her at a PR a t h e r at OU spca.com for membership and partner info. Hey, good morning. Welcome to the show. Thanks so much for coming on.

Clark Barlowe:

Oh, thanks so much for having me. It's a real pleasure to speak with you.

Chris Spear:

Yeah, I'm looking forward to talking to you. I think we're maybe going to dive into some foraging and wild food. I think our conversation will probably head in that direction a little bit.

Clark Barlowe:

Oh, well, that is my wheelhouse. So yes, yes.

Chris Spear:

So let's kind of start with your culinary backstory. How did you get into food and cooking?

Clark Barlowe:

Yeah, so that was that was quite some time ago. I was in high school back in 2003. And my dad's friend opened a restaurant and needed a dishwasher. So I took the job as a dishwasher as a sophomore in high school, and just was enamored by what was going on in the kitchen. I was the dish station was sort of close to the salad station. And so I could see what was going on there. And I just wanted to be involved in it. So I eventually worked my way up to sous chef at that restaurant that was Bud's pub in Berkeley's eatery. And then Johnson and Wales opened their Charlotte campus the year that I graduated high school. And so I went to Johnson and Wales and Charlotte, worked in restaurants while I was there. I did my internship at the French Laundry out in California, came back from there, moved up to Rhode Island and got my bachelor's degree at the Johnson and Wales Rhode Island campus and worked at a really fantastic French restaurant in Rhode Island called che Pascal, which I credit with a large majority of what makes me the chef that I am and then from there, I mean I did a interlocked not really internship, but just sort of a self guided internship in Spain, worked at El Bulli for a little bit of time, which was a fantastic experience. And then came back to the states, worked in Washington DC for a little while, spent a year in Bermuda, and then eventually came back to North Carolina to open the restaurant that I owned for six years heirloom. And then I sold heirloom at the end of 2019. And move with my wife to Oregon for her work.

Chris Spear:

Wow, there's a lot going on there. So

Clark Barlowe:

it's been it's been it's been a little while lots

Chris Spear:

of experience. I'm also a Johnson Wales graduate. I did all four years in Providence. So I know the restaurant scene che Pascal like great. I mean, so let's back up a little bit. You worked at both the French Laundry and El Bulli, those are, you know, when you look at the pinnacle of fine dining and restaurants in the world, I'd say those are two of the top restaurants.

Clark Barlowe:

Oh, I mean, I certainly agree with you there. And they both bring really different things to the industry, or brought really different things to the industry in the case of El Bulli. And they really made me think about food in a completely different way after having worked at both of them.

Chris Spear:

But it doesn't sound like those restaurants were kind of the food you were gravitating towards enough like it does. You didn't come back from El Bulli wanting to open up a modernist kind of restaurant like many of the chefs who worked there did.

Clark Barlowe:

No I think the really neat thing about El Bulli was, it just made you think about food in a completely different way. You started to think about things as more experimental. And that ingredients could be a lot of different things. They didn't have to be a very rigid format of this recipe equals this outcome. So elBulli just gave me a way to think about things differently. And then spending time in Spain, and seeing the way that their food culture worked. When I was first coming up, I wanted to open a Spanish tapas restaurant. And that eventually evolved to a restaurant that source things as locally as possible, but there's a lot of similarities between the two.

Chris Spear:

So what was your restaurant like?

Clark Barlowe:

So heirloom when I owned it, it's still in still in operation now. But the new owners have taken it in a slightly different direction. But when I owned it heirloom was a tasting menu restaurant, we had a 12 course tasting menu that was an it eventually evolved to a nine course and then a seven course and we played around with a lot of different tasting menus, but we also had an ala carte menu that changed seasonally. But the most important thing was that everything was sourced from North Carolina. So when I say every Anything I mean, salt, the soap, the liquor, the beer, the wine, all the food with an eye towards sustainability, because you hear local and farm to table and these budget buzzwords that get thrown around all the time now. And I wanted to put a real clear definition in our guests head, what local meant to us. And so when you say everything comes from North Carolina, that's a very clear thing that the guests can see that oh, now I know what local means to this restaurant.

Chris Spear:

Yeah, sounds similar. You know, I've been to husk and Charlson, you know, way back in the early days, and you'd go in and Shawn had the giant chalkboard there in the hallway with like, all the farms and where he was getting everything from and I thought that was really cool. Oh,

Clark Barlowe:

yeah. I mean, Husker was a big inspiration for us. I mean, Noma was a big inspiration, just seeing these restaurants that were saying, This is what local means to us. And we can do that as well.

Chris Spear:

And you left the restaurant just because you and your wife are moving across country. Yes. So

Clark Barlowe:

my wife graduated with her doctorate from UNC Chapel Hill. And she had job offers in Vanderbilt, and then here in Eugene, Oregon. And so we looked at both of those. And Nashville felt like a very lateral move from Charlotte. And so we decided that Oregon would be it and so put the restaurant up for sale, and it sold within a few months. And then we moved here to Oregon. And I mean, I still have some ideas about getting back into the industry. But I like sort of dictating that a little bit more on my own terms these days.

Chris Spear:

So what have you been doing since you got out there?

Clark Barlowe:

I've worked in a beer and wine department in a small, local grocer out here. And then most recently, I started law school at the University of Oregon. And it's been quite the change from the foodservice industry. But there is a lot of overlap that I'm seeing. And I still do a lot of pop up dinners. We have a very beautiful home that we live here in here in Oregon, and can host up to 816 people for pop up dinner. So I've been doing a lot of those just to keep my cooking chops up.

Chris Spear:

You're the fourth guest I've had who has this law cooking connection. It's really interesting. I have, yeah, I had one chef who was a lawyer, and now he's opened a vegan restaurant in Rhode Island, actually. And then one who's a lawyer, but does pasta making classes on the side. And then one who was a lawyer, who went and started cooking in restaurants. And now he's back to law doing like restaurant law. So it's really interesting. I, you know, this wasn't a theme that I set out for, and I wouldn't have naturally thought that there would be like, a whole bunch of people who kind of had this dual life of like Chef and lawyer.

Clark Barlowe:

I mean, it felt pretty bizarre to me when I decided to make the jump into the legal industry. But there is just a tremendous amount of overlap. When you hear the professors talk about the legal field. There's so many similarities. And just this first year of law school, I see so many similarities to my first year of culinary school of like, getting those basics down and having a good foundation with which to build on. And then the same way, a chef's try to come up with our own style. And the way that we think about food, the legal field is very similar, you start to think about what is the area that I want to practice in? And how can I make an impact in that sort of more niche area?

Chris Spear:

But was this something you would ever thought of like, when you were originally going to school? Did you think maybe I want to pursue a legal career, or is this like in the second part of your life? And by second, I mean, you're still like really young?

Clark Barlowe:

No, I love my wife's answer to this. She says I was always a lawyer. I just got sidetracked by being a chef. But I mean, the little bit more long answer is when I was in middle school and elementary school, I used to read Supreme Court briefs, just as something that I found fascinating to read

Chris Spear:

totally normal thing. Yeah, of course, like.

Clark Barlowe:

And I was always fascinated with the law, and then got the job in the restaurant industry. And my life sort of went a different direction. So then we were we moved out here to Oregon, I was trying to figure out what was going to be the next step for my career. And I had the Supreme Court briefs just sitting out on the kitchen counter and my wife was like, Ah, did you ever think about pursuing that and a little bit more of a serious fashion? And I was like, well, I'll just sort of let the let the process decide for me. So I took the LSAT did well enough on the LSAT that I felt like I could apply and then applied to University of Oregon and got in and then sort of the rest of it went from there. And so now I'm in law school, and I always want wanted to do something that really made an impact. And I felt like I really made an impact with the restaurant. And there's a lot of ways to make really big impacts with food. But with a legal degree and a food service background, I think I can make some real changes that I'm going to be really happy with.

Chris Spear:

Like, what are you kind of looking to get into doing when you get your degree?

Clark Barlowe:

Yeah, so I'm still very like up in the air about what exactly I'm going to do. But University of Oregon has a really talented professor, Michael Dockery, and he does food and farming policy at the school. So really, really interested in that. I'm also interested in Native Indian law, I did a lot of work with the Cherokee tribe when I was back in North Carolina. So that would be something that would be really fulfilling for me to work with some more tribes and feel figured out a way that we can really get them the justice that they deserve. But then I'm also interested in contract law and helping out in the food service industry. So there's a lot of ways that I can take this and thankfully, I don't have to make that decision until about a year or so from now.

Chris Spear:

Well, I look forward to following up and seeing what you end up doing. Well, let's kind of go down the route of wild food and foraging. You know, it sounds like you've always had this passion for, you know, connection with food and the real, local and sustainable. But how did that start? Because that seems like a whole thing that you really have to learn and be careful with. So how did you start doing foraging and wild food.

Clark Barlowe:

So it originally started with my grandfather, we would go fishing, and we'd fish for a little bit. And then we'd be up in the mountains in North Carolina. And he's like, oh, like, really, it's ginseng season, I'd love to go hunt ginseng. So I would go with him to hunt ginseng. And it's one of those things when you're a kid and you're hunting this really valuable plant, it feels like you're hunting treasure. And so I think that's what really drew me into it at first. And then when I was living in Washington, DC, I forged professionally for a couple of restaurants there while I was working for another restaurant group in the DC area. And then moving back to or moving to Bermuda I foraged for the restaurant there that I worked at. And then eventually it all culminated with opening heirloom and getting as serious about it as I possibly could. That was where I really turned the mushroom foraging up a notch and would be foraging pounds and pounds of Shawn Tourelles. And then morale season would be around and we'd be foraging. I mean, it's just amazing the bounty of mushrooms and wild food in general that North Carolina has. So it all evolved over the course of owning the restaurant, I would do a lot of reading in my time off and reading old Appalachian recipes and figuring out dishes that they were doing and the ingredients that they would have to find and forage to do those dishes. And, and that was sort of how it all evolved.

Chris Spear:

And I know some things like there's some mushrooms that are poisonous or have toxins, but if you cook them properly, they're not is that right? Yeah, you're exactly right. Why would you even? Why would you risk that? It just seems so fine. Like aren't there enough delicious things out there that you don't have to even mess with that? And if you've I know you've kind of worked with some of them? Was it really scary the first time you tried cooking them?

Clark Barlowe:

I don't think scary. The like not with mushrooms. The only thing that ever really made me nervous. The first time that I ate it was I did a poke berry juice, which is this wild berry it grows pretty ubiquitously all over the south. And I read this recipe that said if you squeezed it that all the toxins are contained in the seeds. So if you could press just the juice without breaking any of the seeds, then it was completely edible and maybe a really delicious ingredient and turns out, it was fascinating. It tasted kind of like a dark chocolate mixed with a Blackberry. And I drink that juice. And that was the first time I was very nervous. But mushrooms. There's such a great foundational history on how to process these mushrooms and Anita muscaria is the first one that really comes to mind when we talk about taking a mushroom that is somewhat toxic or contains toxins and then processing it to make it edible. That's the mushroom. It's very iconic. It's the red cap and the white dots on it. It's the Mario Mushroom

Chris Spear:

and you have a video. I think it's like a video story on your Instagram. I was watching that a couple days ago.

Clark Barlowe:

Yeah. So it's it's very sad. I mean, it's a pretty simple processing. I actually reached out to my friend Jeremy Umansky. He's a chef in Cleveland. He owns the larger restaurant been on the show twice. Yeah, Jeff Jeremy's Jeremy's awesome, like, I knew you knew him. So that was Jeremy just one of those people he's been, in addition to being one of the nicest people that you could ever meet. He's also a wealth of knowledge when it comes to wild food fermentation like everything. So I reached out to him, and he sort of gave me a quick little processing tip on it. And then I had found, I think, 15 pounds of them just driving along the road here in Oregon. So I really wanted to get them processed. I've got them canned in a variety of different ways in our pantry here. So they're such a neat mushroom. And going back to your question of like, why would you do that? I don't necessarily look at the risks side of it. Because I think the risk is so minimal if you're processing something correctly. And for me, being able to eat something that is truly unique that maybe you're one of only a few people that's ever been able to eat it. It's just too much of a something too exciting to pass up.

Chris Spear:

It kind of reminds me of that Simpsons episode you ever seen the one where he eats the blue fish? And he's not sure if it was done right. And he spends the next 24 hours listening to the Bible, because he thinks he's gonna die.

Clark Barlowe:

It's all here. Like, I always think about FUBU when I think about these mushrooms, so yeah, exactly.

Chris Spear:

We don't have any more. But we used to have Polk berries growing on my property. And I've had this conversation with the kids. And then we were out foraging Paw Paws last week, and we saw these poke berries. And I was talking about this. And so they had that question. For me. It's like, oh, well, it sounds like it's kind of risky to process these things. How delicious are they? I'd rather just eat like raspberries and blackberries that I know we're gonna be okay. And I was like, Yeah, I kind of think I'd be in that same camp, because I read something similar, like people making jams and jellies out of them. But if you don't do it, right,

Clark Barlowe:

oh, yeah, exactly. The biggest thing is like, again, not breaking those seeds. But it's such a cool, it all came from I read a recipe for Appalachian poke punch. And they were juicing the Poke and then adding it in and making this like punch out of it. And I just, I couldn't not try it.

Chris Spear:

I guess a lot of that's like availability, like you probably had didn't have a grocery store when you're up on that mountain there.

Clark Barlowe:

Yeah, exactly. Like, and Polk salad is so iconic, that most people that have gotten into foraging a little bit, know that they can process poke and eat poke as a salad. And I'm saying salad with a T instead of a D. It's it's actually the way of cooking the green light comes from more Eastern European origins. And when the Appalachian people were originally saying that they were saying Polk salad, and people heard that as Polk salad. And so that's how it's become known.

Chris Spear:

Really interesting. This is stuff I haven't I mean, so I'm from the Boston area originally, and now I live in Maryland. So you know, I'm pushing down more towards the south, where my wife's family is from Virginia, and she had some relatives who are like from those areas. So I've been studying a little bit about those food ways. But still, there's so much to learn and stuff that I feel like I'm never even going to get even into. And I'm just scratching the surface right now.

Clark Barlowe:

Exactly. And that's, I mean, that's the fantastic thing about the age that we live in, is there are so many fantastic resources about whatever area of food you're interested in. There's there's great resources on Appalachian cuisine, there's great resources on Spanish, there's just I mean, whatever you want to learn about, there's there's a resource for it.

Chris Spear:

When I think it's interesting, people are going back into the history, you know, we were in this age where there's 40 cookbooks coming out a week. And they're all, you know, new recipes and new techniques. But people are also scouring like used bookstores looking for those community cookbooks. And, you know, digging up some of those heritage recipes. So it is a good time to kind of be in this age.

Clark Barlowe:

Now, I definitely agree. Some of my more prized possessions are some of the native Indian recipe books that I have. And they're things that I had to search for, found them on eBay. And they're mostly falling apart. But to be able to go back through them and see these recipes that came from people that were the indigenous people of the Americas, like there can there can be nothing more from in my opinion, with food that connects us to a place than to be able to cook those dishes.

Chris Spear:

And I know you've done classes, are you still doing classes?

Clark Barlowe:

Yeah. So I do them mostly by requests. Now I do a couple of big foraging classes a year and I promote those here locally. I live in Eugene OR I live technically in Springfield, Oregon, but Eugene is the closest big city and that's it's where the University of Oregon is. That's what most people know it for But I do foraging classes I do cooking classes. It just depends on what people want to learn. Because at this point, I don't, I don't want to do a class for people that aren't interested in it. So I'll promote things and do a couple of large ones a year. But other than that, they're mostly by request. And people can find that on my website that is potential pantry.com. And so everything about the classes and everything is right there on the website.

Chris Spear:

So what else does potential pantry cover?

Clark Barlowe:

Potential pantry is sort of my idea of the evolution of heirloom, it was just the idea of seeing potential in all of the things around us. But we do pop up dinners with some small smaller outfits here in Oregon. We do dinners by request here at the house, or I've done dinners in the forest. I've done dinners in little parks. It's just a variety of different things. And really, it's just a way for me to scratch that culinary itch while still doing law school and some other things.

Chris Spear:

You know, I'm a personal chef. And similarly, you know, I started this as a side business while I was doing something else. And it's nice to be able to just, you know, even if you're just doing it once a month or so, just to kind of keep your hands in that and keep yourself interested. You don't feel like you have to grind it out. 40 plus hours a week doing something like that.

Clark Barlowe:

I definitely agree. It's nice to have the outlet, without all the stress that comes along with restaurants.

Chris Spear:

Do you have a single favorite thing that you like to eat like foraged item?

Clark Barlowe:

Non forged item, my answer is always a duck. I love eating duck. It's super versatile, and I've eaten a lot of wild dogs. So I guess technically it's it's haunted, more so than foraged. But in terms of a forged ingredient, it would probably be the Lactarius Indigo mushroom is my like, by far and away the thing that I geek out about the most. It's just so bright blue, it's like Carolina blue, like the sky. And if you process it correctly, when you pick it, and you have some heavy cream right around you, like you know, you're going to pick these mushrooms, I usually bring heavy cream with me in a cooler, and I'll pick the mushrooms and cut them and drop them right into the cream. And they will turn the cream, literally Carolina blue. And then I've made ice cream out of that cream. And it tastes usually will my pastry chef and Marie Stephanie at the restaurant, she came up with this idea to make ice cream with a cream cheese base. So you didn't have to use egg yolks because if you use egg yolks yellow with blue, you'll kind of get this green.

Chris Spear:

Yeah, like Mint Mint ice cream. Exactly.

Clark Barlowe:

And it's not even, it's not even as appealing as mint, unfortunately. But if you do it with a cream cheese base, then it stays that really pretty blue color. And then the cream cheese mixed with the flavor of the mushroom made us all think it tasted like birthday cake. So it's something I love seeing the look on people's faces when they eat that ice cream, because it's just It boggles their mind. And you can also make a blue mushroom pasta with a cream sauce, sort of like a blue mushroom Alfredo, which is another cool thing to get people to think about.

Chris Spear:

I don't think I've ever had that mushroom. I'm pretty sure I would remember if I had Yeah, and you

Clark Barlowe:

could you should be able to find it in Maryland. It's mostly it's Mike arisal with conifers and some poplar trees. So yeah, and it comes on about the same time as Shawn Terrell. So if you're out foraging chanterelles, it's definitely one to look for.

Chris Spear:

All right, I will put that on my list and maybe send you a photo before I try eating anytime. What are some of your favorite resources for this? I mean, you are a fantastic resource. But other people if they were looking for books, websites, people to follow, do you have anyone who you really like or any resource you really like?

Clark Barlowe:

For books for mushrooms, I have two sort of mushroom Bibles, so to speak. Here on the West Coast, it's mushrooms of the redwood coast, which is a really, really fantastic resource. And when it comes to mushroom ID books for me, it's all about how they're organized. I love having the picture up top and then the description right underneath, as opposed to some other books that have the pictures in the front and then all the descriptions in the back and you're constantly flipping back and forth through the book. So that mushrooms are the redwood coast is fantastic for West Coast foragers. For East Coast foragers, specifically in the southeast. It's William Rudy is the author and it's wild mushrooms of West Virginia and central Appalachia. And that again is organized in that same way and just a really, really Panther asterik resource when it comes to people to follow, that's the fantastic thing right now is there are so many people who are so knowledgeable, I almost don't put up foraging content anymore. Because there's so many people that are doing it that I feel like I have to play catch up every time I put up something foraging related and say, oh, you should check out this person's post and this person's post because they spoke about it very knowledgeably as well. But I'll just list off a couple of people that I follow really quickly here. Lady of the woods is a forage or in Colorado, who along with her partner does some really really fantastic West Coast foraging. Mallory O'Donnell is a fantastic forage are out of the Northeast and a very good friend who is just so knowledgeable and always posting really, really great stuff. Little lichen is another forger in the Northeast, and the friend of Mallory's in mind that does some really, really cool foraging content. You have black forger, Alexis, and she's out of the sort of the more central region of the United States. And honestly, she's putting up some of the most innovative content of anybody right now. And just really, really, really cool stuff. And it's so funny. I've just watched her absolutely explode back when we had the restaurant. I remember seeing her at only a few 1000 followers. And now I think, God, I think she has hundreds of 1000s at least people

Chris Spear:

who really like niche down and that becomes their whole thing. I mean, you know, talking about social media, people say you know, if you want to get a big audience, just focus on that one thing and those who do I think really get these large followings and people who are really interested in their stuff.

Clark Barlowe:

I couldn't agree more. And then Shep's wild is the probably the last porridge I'm sure I'm forgetting. I mean, Jeremy has fantastic TM gastrin, not on Instagram, and you should, everybody should follow Him for everything foraging and everything related.

Chris Spear:

I really go to him for the koji stuff. You know, he's literally wrote a book.

Clark Barlowe:

Yeah, well, what more could you ask for? But chefs wild is a forage or out of the southeast, and a fantastic forger that is just so knowledgeable about mushrooms and everything wild food related. They do a lot of hunting, as well. So if you're into wild food hunting, as well as foraging chefs, wild is a fantastic resource.

Chris Spear:

Do you have anything else interesting going on that we haven't gotten into?

Clark Barlowe:

Oh, I mean, I'm always up to a variety of interesting things here, here on our property. We live on eight acres here in Oregon. And we've been sort of developing the property and there's natural ways we possibly can we clear it about half an acre. And we garden that I come from a pretty agricultural background in North Carolina. So it's been really interesting. For me to grow a lot of these heirloom varieties, we actually have garlic that's been growing on my family's property in North Carolina for over 200 years. And we transplanted that out here to Oregon. And we have that growing in our garden. I also transplanted some ramps from the east coast this spring out here. So I have one of the only ramp patches that I know of on the west coast. So that's pretty fun. Oh, wow.

Chris Spear:

How did how did that work? Like you pulled them up here and just traveled with them. And they survived.

Clark Barlowe:

You should have seen the people at the luggage claim in Oregon, when I was picking my bag up because it smelled like ramps, but like ramps that had been in a cargo hold for seven hours. Delightful. So yeah, I brought a quite a few of them back. And that's one of the only times that I've ever forged ramps with the routes that alone because just from a sustainability perspective, that's really not the way to forage rams. But so I got them back out here to Oregon and had a pretty like I'd say, maybe 80% success rate of putting them in the ground and they went to seed this fall. So that's been really nice.

Chris Spear:

I'm sure you'll have quite a demand for them out there.

Clark Barlowe:

Yeah, that's, that's the other thing is like, I don't sell as many forged ingredients as I used to. I had this idea to do like a wild food CSA. And that's another fantastic Risa resources. forger man, Chris Bennett. I think he's in Asheville.

Chris Spear:

Oh, yeah. I think he's one of the first people I've followed on social media in the kind of foraging space. Yeah,

Clark Barlowe:

he's such a cool like, and again, such a nice guy. He did one of his book release dinners with us at heirloom, and I just I have a lot of respect for Chris and everything that he brings and does with the foraging community. But he does a wild food CSA or did at one point in time, I think he might still do that. And so so that was going to be the model. But then as I got into law school, I was like, I need to focus more on these one off dinners and classes because they're not as big of a time commitment as a weekly CSA. So I don't sell as many wild ingredients anymore. But when I get a huge quantity of something, I still will have some restaurants that I call and say, Oh, would you like something like this, but I think the ramps are going to be just for just for us here at our house.

Chris Spear:

Oh, and I saw on your Instagram, something about a snail farm or snail farming.

Clark Barlowe:

I always thought about I forget that I'm doing that. So yeah, that was something that I was always fascinated with. Back when my wife and I were still in North Carolina, we had the idea that maybe we would do like a small, like snail farm in North Carolina, because there's really there's only two snail farms for like human consumption snails in the United States. One is in Washington State and one's in New York State. And the one in New York State is apparently owned by one of my classmates from Johnson and Wales. I didn't know him at the time. But when when I posted about the snails, one of my other friends said, oh, did you know that Taylor actually owns that snail farm in New York, and I was like, I don't know. I had no idea. But snails are just such a fascinating thing. And they have such this rich history. It's called Hela culture. And it goes back to Roman times, that the Romans would cultivate snails for medicinal as well as culinary purposes. And so we have these snails they're called a Pacific sidebands snail. And they have red flesh to them in this really pretty shell that's kind of dark burgundy and yellow. And they're just all over our property here in the rainy season in Oregon. And so I started picking them up and did a lot of research into how to create a nice habitat for them and what to feed them and how to take care of them. And now they breed so quickly, we have all these little tiny snails. And I don't know why I never thought of this, but snails are born from an egg like they have these white eggs that we can get into snail eschar go here in just a minute because that's another fascinating subject. But snails are born with their shell completely intact, and then their shell grows with them. I think I thought about snails the same way I think about like hermit crabs that maybe they just went into different shells as they got older. But that's not the case. They grow their shell their entire life. And when they're born, like they're maybe the tip of a pen big, they are not big at all. And there's just 10s if not hundreds of them when they when they're born. So I've got a lot of snails now, but the Pacific sideband is a it's a wild snail native here to Oregon. It's one of the largest terrestrial snails like a land snail. And there's very few toxic land snails, there's more toxic marine snails. But toxicity wasn't something that we had to worry about with terrestrial snails. So I'm growing those and hopefully I'll have enough eventually that I can eat some but right now, I only have so few they're more like pets and less less like food at this point.

Chris Spear:

We have a pet snail. It's a my my kids got into fish a couple years ago, and we got a fish tank and we were having issues with algae and stuff and friend said, yeah, get a snail they do an amazing job of cleaning but warned us get one snail because if you get a couple snails, then you can have snail babies. And once they start having snail babies, you're going to have a big problem in there.

Clark Barlowe:

Oh, I can only imagine if you were trying to keep it so that you didn't have that many snail because they breed so quickly. And I don't know if is the case for all snails but especially the one that I'm working with. They can assume both genders. So depending on what snail they meet up with, they assume the opposite gender and then they breed and these shoot out these things called when I was reading about it so funny. They call them like love darts. This is intriguing it like I could talk about snails for the whole time. Our conversation, because it's the thing I've been reading and researching the most outside of the wall these days. So that's how the snails breed and then they produce this. This really beautiful, like eggs. I was gonna call it caviar but I guess it's technically not caviar until you've processed it. And that's the one thing chefs Wilde actually mentioned this to me years ago when we started seeing some Snail caviar coming on the market. And I was like how is that possible because snail eggs are very, very toxic, and snails are pretty toxic if you were to eat them in their uncooked form So my assumption is that the snail caviar producers are somehow blanching the caviar prior to the salting of it. But I haven't done a lot of research into that. And I probably won't, because I don't have an I don't have a real interest in eating snail caviar, I have more of an interest in eating the more mature versions of them.

Chris Spear:

These are all things I have no knowledge of, and never even gave thought to. I mean, I've had caviar before, but just would never have even thought about eating snail eggs or in how you are how you got snails for, you know, I guess it's kind of like we're also looking now at edible insects and stuff. And you know, now that there are like cricket farms and things of that nature.

Clark Barlowe:

Absolutely. And when it comes from a sustainability perspective, whether it's insects or or snails or rabbits or goats like those are some of the most sustainable sources of protein that we know of. So the more of those kinds of agricultural producers that we have, I think the better that will all be just because they produce so ubiquitously and in the case of snails and insects can require some pretty limited footprints.

Chris Spear:

Are you down with eating insects? Yeah,

Clark Barlowe:

I'm not opposed to eating insects. And I have in the past,

Chris Spear:

Joseph Yun was a guest on my podcast, he runs Brooklyn bugs and his whole life is dedicated to raising awareness of edible insects and doing pop up dinners and events and stuff around that. So that's really interesting to me. I haven't tried everything. Um, you know, I'll do crickets and some worms, like I'm not at the scorpion level yet, and didn't get to try any of the brood X cicadas last year, unfortunately.

Clark Barlowe:

Oh, yeah. Have you seen Jeremy do his cicada poboy dish?

Chris Spear:

I have not.

Clark Barlowe:

It's wild. If you go back on his Instagram, like maybe a year or two ago. He was he was doing cicada poboys

Chris Spear:

Oh, I have to find that. And I'm overdue a visit out to Cleveland so hoping to get out there soon.

Clark Barlowe:

Oh, no, I I haven't even been Jeremy came and did our two year anniversary with us at heirloom. And that was such a fun dinner and to be able to cook with him is always fun. But I'm definitely due for a trip to Larter.

Chris Spear:

Oh, I have a question. So I'm from you know, terroir is important. And all this what are your thoughts on these mushroom growing kits? Like is it the same? Because now these companies like you can buy this block in the mail and grow your own mushrooms? Like did they taste the same? Like nutritionally or the same? Do you have any knowledge about those

Clark Barlowe:

I can speak nutritionally I know that there's not going to be any real difference nutritionally, from them. Now if I mean when you're talking about like carbohydrates and proteins, now when we start talking about a little, maybe small branched chain amino acids and things like that, there might be some health benefits to some to some wild mushrooms, but the mushrooms that you can cultivate, it's a pretty small subset of the the fungi kingdom, because mean you've got Lion's Mane Chu talkies, oysters just it's a pretty limited selection. But I grow mushrooms here at the house on our spent coffee grounds. I'll just get some of those bags, whether it's oysters, and I've actually had some success with Lion's Mane recently. And I'll inoculate the coffee grounds and a five gallon bucket and then drill holes in it and just leave it in the driveway. And we'll have oysters and Lion's Mane that fruit over the course of the whole year. So it's a great way to use up spinning coffee grounds and get some really tasty mushrooms out of it. But not I mean, I have no problem like anything that gets people interested in mushrooms is absolutely fine in my book. And there's been some people I think it's, it might be far west fungi or it's a producer out of the bay area that they just recently found out a way to cultivate cauliflower mushrooms. And that's one of the things people never thought cauliflower mushrooms can be cultivated. There's a producer, somewhere in the United States, I forget where that I've seen that they've been cultivating beefsteak mushrooms, which again, another mushroom that I didn't think that would ever be cultivated. And that's one of the few mushrooms that you can eat crawl. So it's really interesting. And when you cut it, it actually bleeds it produces this sort of like almost like a red sap that looks interesting. It's a cool, it's a really creepy. Yeah, you can make a carpaccio with it, which is really, really cool. And then another mushroom that I never thought I'd see cultivated, was chicken of the woods. And that's Ayni it's foxfarm and forage in APEX North Carolina. I've seen that they've been cultivating some chicken of the woods mushrooms and so there's some people that are coming into this mushroom cultivation now that have a lot of knowledge and are really looking to innovate and it's producing some really, really cool results. It's just one of those things like when you have to wait seasonally for these mushrooms, whether it's beef steak or cauliflower or chicken, it's, it's such a waiting game, you wait all year for it. And even if there might be a little bit of a culinary dip, that it might not taste as amazing as the wild mushroom. And who knows whether that's a placebo effect that because you forage that it tastes better, but being able to get these mushrooms year round, like cauliflower mushrooms, you can do such cool dishes with those because they look just like egg noodles. And so you can do like gluten free pastas with these cauliflower mushrooms that just taste awesome. So it's nice to have the year round aspect to them.

Chris Spear:

Hi, now I am torn because it is nice to look at seasonality, like do I want ramps all year, that would be kind of cool. But it's also nice to look at it in like this six week window as well.

Clark Barlowe:

Exactly. Asparagus is the thing that most people I think can relate to in that regard. Because you can go into the grocery store year round and get asparagus, but it doesn't taste any better than it does in late February. Early March tomatoes. Yep, exactly.

Chris Spear:

Yes. Well, thanks so much for coming on the show. I appreciate having you and spending the time talking to me about foraged foods and all of your culinary adventures.

Clark Barlowe:

No, Chris, this was such a ball. Like, you've had so many people that are friends of mine and people that I admire on the podcast. So it's a real pleasure for me to have been on.

Chris Spear:

Do you have anything you want to leave our listeners with anywhere you want to send them anything to plug? Yeah, really

Clark Barlowe:

just check out potential pantry, it's easy enough to find it's just potential pantry.com It's going to tell you everything occurred just whenever it's gonna, it's going to tell you that everything that we're doing out here in Oregon, now, my Instagram keeps getting hacked. So I'm gonna have to enable two factor authentication whenever I get that back. But hopefully, by the time that we get this podcast up, I'll have my Instagram back. And that's another great way to find me. It's just my name Clark Barlow. And I don't post as often as I used to back when I had the restaurant. But when I put something up, I tried to make it something fun. So either potential pantry record bar, those are the two ways to find me.

Chris Spear:

Great, and I'll link all that stuff in the show notes so people can connect with you there. You're a rockstar.

Clark Barlowe:

I appreciate it.

Chris Spear:

Thanks again for spending the morning with me. And maybe we can catch up in person sometime soon. I'd love to head out to Oregon.

Clark Barlowe:

Absolutely. Anytime you're out here. Feel free. Give me a chat. And I mean, we have two spare bedrooms here at the house. So anytime you're here, just give me a ring and we'll set you up.

Chris Spear:

Nobody wants to host my children but

Clark Barlowe:

children around my wife. I'm always worried that we'll end up with children.

Chris Spear:

Well, I've got twins, so watch out. To all our listeners. This has been Chris with the Chefs Without Restaurants podcast. Thanks so much and have a great week. Go to chefs without restaurants.org To find our Facebook group, mailing list and check database. The community's free to join. You'll get gig opportunities, advice on building and growing your business and you'll never miss an episode of our podcast. Have a great week.