The “Fungus Face-Off,” was held Jan. 19, 2019, at the Big Sur River Inn.

Woods’ crudo featured currants, ramp veloté, sea grape, candy cap mushrooms and pinot noir salt. Woods also served agnolotti pasta with burrata, morel mushrooms, crab, winter truffle, agrodolce garnish, arugula flower from the garden and midnight blossoms, spruce salt, freeze-dried green apple and fresh truffle. He finished off with a panna cotta featuring Douglas fir spring tips, pine nut and blood orange.

Judges called his dishes, “most eye-opening and really delicious,” and said there was “a lot of complexity to each dish.”

Winning “Most Imaginative Dish” was Montrio Bistro of Monterey’s Tony Baker and Justin Robarge’s Roasted Rabbit Consommé. The dish featured a rabbit rolade with grand porcinis, chopped carrots, celery and green onions. The dish also featured golden chanterelle and porcini mushroom caviar made with agar (seaweed gelatin).

Judges exclaimed, “Great imagination!” and “Beautifully presented.” One even remarked, “What, no bacon?” with a wink and a nod to Baker’s renowned artisan Baker’s Bacon.

Winning “Best Use of Foraged Ingredients” were chefs Elizabeth Murray and Raphael Ferrenbach of Sierra Mar at the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur. They presented a Chanterelle Pop Tart that featured cooked chanterelles, duxelles cooked with sherry, butter, thyme and black pepper in a puff pastry with duck mousse piped on top and a lion’s mane mushroom, also on top. The dish also included a meringue flavored with candy cap mushrooms, chocolate truffle with yuzu and juniper and caramels of candy cap.

One judge said the pop tart was “One of the best dishes I’ve had,” while another said with the use of lion’s mane was, “so beautiful visually and delicious.”

Four chefs took home Honorable Mention awards, including chefs Steven Siglin and Michael Hartman of Bigsurific of Big Sur, Eduardo Coronel of Rio Grill in Carmel and Ben Spungin of Alta Bakery and Café in Monterey.

The Siglin/Hartman dish was a locally foraged mushroom tart with candy cap -infused jello. The mushrooms used, lilaceps (Cypress Agaricus), only grown under Monterey cypress trees.

One judge said about the dish: “Passion and thought and intellect that went into everything was delightful.”

Chef Cornel’s dish was a Huitlacoche Wild Mushroom Tamale with red mole, chanterelles, and corn fungus filling. Judges said: “Oh my god, that was good!” and “I never knew corn fungus could be so tasty!”

Chef Spungin’s dish was a celery root potato pancake with chanterelles, curly mustard and black truffle vinaigrette topped with candy cap powder.

Also named were winners of wine awards, including:

McIntyre 2017 Chardonnay – “Beautifully balanced, with fresh citrus and golden apple, supple texture.”

Mesa Del Sol 2013 Sangiovese  – “Elegant structure, pleasing tannins, great texture, lovely dark fruit, moderate alcohol.”

Runners-up were:

Scheid 2013 Pinot Noir (Santa Lucia Highlands)

Wrath 2016 Swan Pinot Noir (Monterey)

Baker & Brain “Escolle” Pinot Noir (SLH)

Mesa Del Sol 2013 Zinfandel

Honorable Mention :

Comanche Petillant Naturel

The Foragers Festival has traditionally served as a fundraiser for the Big Sur Health Center. The community’s non-profit health center will receive the proceeds from the foraging events to continue to support the presence of local health care services in the Big Sur area. This year more than $31,000 was raised at the event.

The four-day festival affords Big Sur area restaurants the opportunity to host the culinary expertise of notable chefs, who will be preparing unique fare ranging from rustic to elegant, paired alongside the central coast region’s amazing selection of wine and beer.

About the BSHC:
As a nonprofit health-care facility since 1979, the Big Sur Health Center provides quality acute and preventive health care services that are culturally and linguistically appropriate, and cost-effective. It is the Health Center’s quest to be a lifelong healthcare partner and provide care when needed.

The Big Sur Health Center provides:

  • comprehensive, personalized services through conventional and holistic approaches that focus on patient needs;
  • both preventive and urgent care, minor surgical procedures and basic laboratory and pharmaceutical services;
  • assistance during emergencies, such as fires, storms and road closures that isolate Big Sur
  • a bilingual staff that is committed to building strong, personal patient/provider relationships that empower individuals to reach their highest levels of well-being;
  • a team that understands and embraces the diverse cultures and age groups that contribute to the richness of the Big Sur community.

The BSHC believes that health care should be available to everyone … and that is why they accept most major insurance plans, including Medicare and Medical, and participate in a variety of subsidized and sliding-scale programs.

Hours: Monday-Friday
10 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2-5 p.m.
Phone: 831-667-2580
Address: 46896 Highway 1, Big Sur, CA 93920

Website: http://www.bigsurhealthcenter.org/