When it comes to modern Colorado weddings, that old standard of reheated stale food from a farm located 1500 miles away and the tired options of chicken or fish simply won't do. Environmentally conscious couples and foodies alike are now opting for locally grown, fresh, and organic options in their wedding reception cuisine, and caterers are hearing them loud and clear. Breaking new culinary grounds is The Wild Basin Lodge's chef, Nick Fuster, who has the unique skill of finding, identifying and incorporating local wild mushrooms into a variety of dishes.
The Wild Basin Lodge in Boulder County hosts over 250 weddings and events each year, and all food preparation is done on site by chef Fuster. You may remember Fuster from the recent blog post on My Town Colorado, and The Wild Basin Lodge staff is thrilled to have him on board. He came up with the inspired idea of mushroom hunting near the lodge and in the neighboring town of Lyons to add a local and organic flavor to cuisine for guests. While searching in the local area, he found porcini mushrooms, which are referred to as "Stein" in German. "Stein in German means rock because they blend in with the ground they grow in and look a lot like brown or reddish rocks," says Fuster. The chef slices up his finds, sautés them in olive oil and uses them for the lodge's wild mushroom risotto (a vegan dish that's often served at wedding receptions) and the wild mushroom sauce that tops Wild Basin steaks and New York strip steaks. "I found some right behind the lodge, but also around Allenspark and the Peaceful Valley area. But like every wild mushroom hunter, I can't tell the exact spots!" Says Fuster.
Fuster has introduced a wide variety of new organic menu options with locally-grown ingredients to the lodge's wedding and event menus, and worldwide travelers are consistently impressed with the quality of appetizers, side dishes, and entrées that are all freshly prepared on site for each unique private event. The chef, who previously worked as the head chef at The MED Restaurant in Boulder, integrates his international training in Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Bermuda and Hawaii into several of his dishes while retaining a high standard of locally purchased ingredients. A few new menu options that have been added to the Wild Basin menu in 2013 include appetizers of bruschetta, Swedish meatballs, baked green lip mussels, and melon prosciutto and entrées of Colorado rack of lamb, crisp duck breast, and cornish game hen over a goat cheese cream sauce. Fuster purchases ingredients locally whenever possible and prides himself on preparing fresh cuisine for guests at the facility.
Fuster (pictured below in The Wild Basin Lodge's Copeland bar) continues to create new organic projects at the lodge. He started an herb garden next to the facility and uses fresh mint, cilantro, basil and other herbs in his popular cuisine. Do you have ideas for organic meals at your next Rocky Mountain event? Have you found wild mushrooms in Boulder County or have an interest in the hobby? Contact The Wild Basin Lodge to share your thoughts with Chef Fuster!