A Restaurant In The Woods
Damon Baehrel is an upstate New York chef who has foraged, cured and tinctured his way into legendary status among a select number of foodies. He claims reservations to his restaurant, starting at $400 a head, are booked until 2025.
He once watched deer go after the inner barks of certain trees, he told the New Yorker, learning, as a result, that those trees were salty compared to the other trees. Who else can boast this level of intimacy with their ingredients?
With the exception of basic proteins like meat, fish and dairy, Baehrel claims he gets all of his ingredients from his land, curing meats in pine needles, making flours and oils from acorns and dandelions, using dried lichen for onion powder, and even harvesting a dozen or so saps from maple, birch, sycamore and hardwood cherry trees, some of which he uses in drinks and to brine things. Commercially available cornstarch is so basic compared to what Baehrel uses: wild-violet stems as a thickener.
He calls his cuisine, with its earthy ingredients in unique and painstakingly arrived-at combinations, Native Harvest, in homage to Native American foragers.
Some hail his cooking as genius, and others say it’s all hype built on the narrative around his cooking habits and the origins of his food. That Baehrel’s cooking can command top dollar and surrounding lore combine a number of trends we’re following, including Sustainability, Provenance (and in this case Extreme Provenance), Aspiration and even Tedious content.