Mike Jozwik has parlayed a lifelong love of fungi into a burgeoning career.
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).
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.
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
This meaty, intensely flavored variety has some physical similarity to the button mushroom, but it’s darker.
Elegant and shaped rather like a fan, this mild fungus has a briny taste and silky texture.
This mild mushroom, often used in Asian cuisine, has a delicate crunch.
Nutty, buttery and sweet all apply to this mushroom that grows in clusters.
Another name for this beauty, whose flavor is similar to Dungeness crab, is the bearded tooth fungus.