Bourbon Steak, celebrated for its plates of grass-fed red meat, is not the first place you’d expect to find a chef nerding out over urban foraging. But Executive Chef Drew Adams is anything but shy when it comes to his fascination with searching for ingredients in the wild
“Your whole entire life you walk down the street, you walk in the woods and you just have no idea what’s at your feet,” the chef says.
Adams oversees Bourbon Steak’s kitchen inside the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown. He recently launched an exclusive guided excursion and dinner for guests curious about identifying Washington’s edible local flora. Adams’ foraging hobby started about six years ago, when he and a chef colleague began taking walks and keeping their eyes open for items like ramps and wild garlic and mustard.
“When we started opening our eyes more and learning about foraging, we noticed how much was really out there,” he says.
There's often no need to travel far, either. Adams says the D.C. region has plenty of foraging diversity to discover.
“We try to stay along the Potomac,” he says. That includes locations like Carterock in Maryland and even sites in the city.
The season starts with ramps in March and April and progresses into spring and summer with onion grass, stinging nettles, ground ivy, wild carrots and various mushrooms. Rock Creek Park can bring bounty like morels, persimmon and paw paw fruit.
Due to food and health regulations, participants on the foraging trip won’t see their exact hauls cooked up in the Bourbon Steak kitchen. And depending on the location, laws may also prohibit anyone from pulling weeds or mushrooms.
Prior to the excursion, Adams will take his own quick research stroll through the area to familiarize himself with what’s around and in season. Depending on what he finds – say, chanterelle mushrooms – the kitchen staff can work with local purveyors to get them into the restaurant for the afternoon's meal. The exact dishes will change with each group.
“It’s probably going to be a little more vegetable focused than our menu is, but obviously we’ll finish with a steak or something," he says.
The Foraging and Feasting experience heads out Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. and includes a guided trip (with town car transportation) with chef Adams. It concludes back at the restaurant with a five course meal with wine pairings (gratuity not included). The intimate and educational experience is $615 for two guests – additional guests can be added for an extra cost.
Bourbon Steak is located at 2800 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, inside the Four Seasons Hotel. The Foraging and Feasting trip can be booked by emailing BourbonSteak.WAS@fourseasons.com.