Alan Bergo: Chasing A Mushroom High, Sustainable Ramp Harvesting, and Why You Need to Grow Weeds in Your Garden

What are the "rampy-ramps" and why are they so coveted among foodies and chefs? 

Alan Bergo and I join forces on today's episode to discuss the obsession over wild leeks, mid-western matsutakes, and edible weeds. 

We also talk about how Alan grew up in Minnesota, how Alan's style of mushroom picking has evolved over the years, and how Alan jokingly says he's been supporting his local Amish children since 2013.

In today's episode, you'll learn...

  • How to sustainably harvest springtime ramps,
  • Why you should grow an invasive weed garden,
  • Two popular wild condiment recipes, and...
  • Much, much more.

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Episode Breakdown

  • Alan talks about his first and most precious experience with wild foods early in his culinary career
  • Why Alan says adding wild food to a restaurant's menu is becoming a fad
  • Alan talks about his early years growing up in mid-west Minnesota
  • How came to be
  • How digging through David Arora's work led Alan to more research about mushrooms
  • Alan gives a few suggestions on people he follows within the fungi community
  • Why Alan says he wants to write an article about mushrooms and pokémon
  • Alan's discovery of matsutake mushrooms in the mid-west
  • Why Alan trims the stems of his mushrooms
  • Alan describes the nutty situations people will put themselves into over mushroom hunting
  • The difference between North American and European porcini
  • Why Alan says you shouldn't eat bitter boletes 
  • How Alan's style of mushroom picking has changed over time
  • Alan explains what he calls "the neanderthal instinct"
  • Why Alan says you really cannot over-pick mushrooms
  • Why you need to do your research to be aware of your local and/or state foraging laws
  • Alan explains what the "rampy-ramps" are and why chefs (at least in the mid-west) obsess over them 
  • Why Alan sees over-harvesting of these wild foods as being an issue in the years to come
  • Alan explains the different parts of a ramp
  • How the Iroquois sustainably forage ramps
  • Why Alan says he won't purchase ramps from anyone other than two people
  • Why Alan plants ramps in grandma's garden patch
  • What Alan says is the customer favorite ramp recipe (and you don't need to use the bulbs)
  • How to make ramp ranch and ramp siracha
  • Why Alan's favorite invasive species are thought of as weeds by many of Alan's farmers 
  • Where Alan sees the future of food
  • How Alan sources wild food for his restaurant
  • The interesting and unique way Alan is sourcing spruce tips
  • What Alan says is the best part of picking greens yourself
  • Why Alan says picking weeds from your garden is a win-win
  • Why you might see Alan and his work featured on major television networks

Questions I Ask

  1. “Tell us a little bit about what you do over there at Forager Chef and what you want people to know about it."

  2. "How did a typical Alan Bergo childhood look like?"

  3. "Tell me more about where it's [foraging] led you now."

  4. "Can you explain for people that aren't familiar with the matsutake mushroom, what's so special about it?"

  5. "Do you have a rule, like, 'Oh, I'm just going to grab a basketful. Or... just enough for me to eat for today.' How do you do that?" 

  6. "Could you give a couple examples of what you would use them [ramps] with?"

  7. "How exactly do you use invasive species in your cooking?"

  8. "Do you think it would be easy for somebody like myself, or, like, somebody in the audience with a small family to go out and forage enough wild greens or wild foods to supplement their diet?"

  9. "How can people reach out and get to know you a little bit better?"

Mentioned Resources

Quote Highlight

"We need to start thinking about how we can replenish what we've taken from the land." — Alan Bergo

Who is Alan Bergo?

Alan Bergo is the executive chef at Lucia's restaurant in Minneapolis and chief content creator and author of 

Contact Alan, Here:

Website: (media inquiries only)

Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram

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James Broderick