‘Mushroom Mike’ Jozwik is a Fungal Tour-de-Force for Milwaukee Restaurants

Mike Jozwik has parlayed a lifelong love of fungi into a burgeoning career.

Mike Jozwik – better known as Mushroom Mike – has come a long way since his college undergrad days selling foraged mushrooms outside the Dane County Farmers Market.

The source of edibles for restaurants in MKE, Madison and Chicago is gearing up for a big 2019 as he forwards his quest to build a suburban shroom factory that eclipses his modest Harbor District facility (both a landing spot for wild edibles and a small indoor farm for specialty items like microgreens).

Dane County Farmers Market; photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Racine native grew up tromping through forests for the pearls of the spore-bearing world but didn’t make a career out of foraging until he relocated to Milwaukee after grad school.

His fungal-friendly moniker was coined in the Madison days hooking up chefs like L’Etoile’s Tory Miller with morels; now it’s the LLC that supplies to Bartolotta restaurants, Odd Duck, Morel, Goodkind and more.

To the career question “Why the mushroom trade?” he replies animatedly: “It speaks to the seasonality of Wisconsin. There are so many kinds besides creminis that are edible.”

Truth is, Jozwik is more than a little fixated on fungi. Even when he was working on a dual master’s degree outside the Midwest, he’d rush home whenever he could “to every park in the state to get my fix of morels,” he says.

Getting local chefs as entranced with his wares wasn’t that hard. “He’d come out of the woods with these things. Most people’s quality didn’t look anywhere close to the stuff he was getting,” says Miles Borghgraef, chef/owner of Birch + Butcher, which is also the dropoff for Mushroom Mike retail customers.

Jozwik also hosts special mushroom dinners at Lake Park Bistro. (This year’s dates: Morel Mushroom Dinner, May 23; Fall Mushroom Dinner, Oct. 17.)

Does the mushroom man have a favorite fungus to eat? Indeed. It’s the Entoloma abortivum (or hunter’s heart, or ground prune) whose flavor – which Jozwik compares to shrimp – sounds more appealing than its name.

Mushroom Mike’s wares

Photo by Max Thomsen

This meaty, intensely flavored variety has some physical similarity to the button mushroom, but it’s darker.

Gray Oyster
Photo by Max Thomsen

Elegant and shaped rather like a fan, this mild fungus has a briny taste and silky texture.

White Enoki
Photo by Max Thomsen

This mild mushroom, often used in Asian cuisine, has a delicate crunch.

White Beech
Photo by Max Thomsen

Nutty, buttery and sweet all apply to this mushroom that grows in clusters.

Lion’s Mane
Photo by Max Thomsen

Another name for this beauty, whose flavor is similar to Dungeness crab, is the bearded tooth fungus.

“Wild Ride” appears in the April 2019 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning April 1, or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.

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Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.