Chef Shaun Edwards
FORT ATKINSON, WI–Shaun Edwards ran off and joined the circus in 2006, putting a recent bachelor’s degree in business and finance from Lipscomb University to use as a roadie with Cirque de Soleil. While on the road, a concession job selling hot dogs soon became one managing the Cirque’s VIP bistro dining tent. A decade later, with a degree from The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, stints working with Certified Master Chef Rich Rosendale at the Greenbrier Hotel in White Sulphur Springs, WV and Top Chef Masters winner, Floyd Cardoz, at the North End Grill in Battery Park, NY, Edwards has become a chef in his own right. Chef Shaun is now responsible for product development at Jones Dairy Farm, a packaged food company located in Fort Atkinson. He also makes many of the artisan delicacies offered in the company’s retail market.
At the end of August, Shaun will be working the tents once again. On Thursday the 26th, he and his crew will cook for the guests of a local couple at an informal supper following their wedding rehearsal. The bride is of Spanish descent; the food served will include many of her favorites. To ensure authentic flavor, imported Spanish olives, cheese, almonds, saffron, pimenton and Calasparra rice will be used for the tapas and paella. The next evening Shaun will be responsible for the picnic reception after the wedding ceremony. The menu will feature local favorites. Shaun has been encouraged by the groom to offer new interpretations of family recipes. The groom accepts full responsibility for the decision to mess with tradition; full credit for any magic goes to the chef.
Grifola Frondosa, Maitake, Hen of the Woods, Sheep or Ram’s Head
UNDISCLOSED NORTH AMERICAN LOCATION–Grifola Frondosa appears in late summer through mid fall. While it has a distinctive appearance which would be difficult to confuse with other mushrooms, and it can grow to enormous size, it can still be difficult to see as it often well camouflaged by grass and fallen leaves on the forest or savannah floor. A local man has expanded his hunt for the elusive Hen of the Woods this year in order to have enough of the delicacy to share with friends and extended family when they visit the farm for a wedding at the end of August.
Early August Golden Hen
“Normally, I just pick one or two maitake which typically weigh between 5 and 10 pounds each; I leave the small ones” declared the mushroom hunter. “A good sized specimen can take a long time to clean because of the grass and leaves which get caught in the fungus as it grows.” He explained that one 10 pound mushroom could take up to an hour to prepare for cooking or dehydrating. Each is deconstructed, leaves and other forest debris are removed bit by bit, then the “petals” are placed in a dehydrator overnight or cooked immediately. “I usually sauté some in olive oil and season with minced shallot and a little salt and pepper, then eat right away–straight from the pan or tossed in pasta. They are at least as good as morels, maybe better. ” Dried hen of the woods is easily rehydrated and are excellent additions to soups, sauces and stews.
Laetiporus, Chicken of the Woods
Hen of the Woods is not the same as Chicken of Woods. “One looks like a chicken, from the back, I guess, and the other supposedly tastes like chicken.” The two are totally unrelated: Laetiporus is often bright orange and grows on dead or dying trees, Grifola Frondosa grows on the ground under healthy trees. Since their seasons overlap, the forager allowed that there may be some Chicken of the Woods on the menu too.
The Hen of Woods has a special importance to the soon-to-be married couple as they went hunting for them on the day the first met nearly a dozen years ago.