Indiana Forest Alliance to hold Forest-Foraged Feast July 29 in Carmel


A basket of forest-foraged berries. Chanterelle mushrooms, blackberries, ramps, milkweed and persimmons are just a few of the forest-foraged foods that might end up on the menu for the event. (Submitted photo)

By Heather Collins

Throughout July, local foragers are exploring Indiana’s forests to find food for a one-of-a-kind meal in Carmel.

The Indiana Forest Alliance will host the Forest-Foraged Feast at 5:30 p.m. July 29 at Atrio, inside IU Health North Hospital.

“We’re sourcing really amazing foraged food from Indiana forests,” said Sandra Messner, development director for Indiana Forest Alliance.

The full menu will depend on what foragers find. Local foragers, including Summer Cooper, are searching throughout Indiana forests to find food for the meal, which will include locally foraged berries and mushrooms and locally sourced, organic, farm-raised food and a vegan station.

“Before the 1820s or so, Indiana was 85 percent forest. It’s important to remember that, because in the current landscape, we have very few forests left,” Messner said. “This dinner allows people to experience some foods that our ancestors and Native Americans were eating long before today. I think it’s a special experience to learn about these foods, and it’s amazing to me how many tasty things are sitting on the forest floor.”

Executive Chef Peter Fulgenzi will prepare the meal. Fulgenzi runs Atrio, where he’s trying to change the perception of hospital food by offering healthy, gourmet selections. He was previously the personal chef for actor John Travolta.

Fulgenzi said he likes the challenge of using foods that aren’t on the mainstream menu. He said his daughter is a mycologist and organic vegan, and he’s walked through the woods many times with her discovering new foods on forest floors.

The Indiana Forest Alliance recently helped save and replant trees throughout Haverstick Woods in Carmel.

Tickets are $150 per person. The event will include music by Tim Brickley and a silent auction featuring items from Rosie’s Garden and handmade books by Carmel artist LorieLee Andrews. Proceeds will benefit Indiana Forest Alliance’s mission to preserve and restore Indiana’s native hardwood ecosystem for the enjoyment of all.

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