In the heart of Long Branch, New Jersey, you’ll find a unique space featuring a bar, farm, kitchen, and brewery at the Whitechapel Projects (WCP). Here the beachside city patrons enjoy the fresh and best from Two River Mushroom Co. Restaurateur, Chef, Humanitarian Marilyn Schlossbach partnered with Scientist, School Teacher, Farmer, KC Sullivan to deliver the finest fungi on the beach. Today, KC will be our tour guide.
Creative energy fills the courtyard upon entering the WCP gathering place. This historic warehouse adaptive reuse is where you can capture exceptional nano-brews and artesian cuisine. I can attest to that firsthand. After enjoying a WCP specialty Flatbread made with KC’s sustainably grown Two River goodness, I knew exactly what all the hype was about! He and I bellied up to the bar, tended by a friendly mixologist, and chatted for a bit.
Danielle: KC, I understand that you are the team’s scientist. When did you start your farm here at the restaurant on Jersey Shores?
KC: The restaurant (Whitechapel) had been open for a year or so under different ownership, and then Marilyn Schlossbach came in from the Asbury Park Restaurant Tour. She ran this (WCP) for quite a bit of time until I came in. I met her at different restaurants that she owns, we got to know each other, and we really saw eye to eye on a lot of things like sustainability, farm to table. And so, once Whitechapel opened here, I saw the space. I fell in love with it. I saw the shipping container in the back and thought it would be a really neat idea to take the business that I had started, Two River, and scale it up here on site.
Danielle: I’m always interested in the journeys, so what interested you into becoming a mushroom farmer?
KC: I went to school for Environmental Studies. I’ve been a teacher for 20 years at a local public high school and have always been into gardening. I also had been in the restaurant industry for 20 plus years. Hospitality and food are really important to me. By working with different Chefs in the industry, I discovered the need for a hyper-local organic mushroom product because of how perishable they are. So, it made sense to me that if anything should be local, it should be mushrooms.
Danielle: I absolutely agree. Although they have a short shelf life, mushrooms contain incredible health benefits and taste fantastic. Do you have a favorite mushroom?
KC: I don’t… Well, it depends on the day of the week, I guess. Yeah, I like them all. Just depends on what dish I’m cooking and what kind of drink I’m having.
Danielle: What’s your favorite way to drink mushrooms?
KC: Oh, boy. Well, you know we have a tincture line we’re proud of and use those incorporated into different drinks. For me, that’s probably the primary format for drinking them.
As I follow KC through the restaurant and a large room that they use for various events and workshops, including inoculation classes, weddings, corporate parties, to name a few. Once we exited the building, we passed through the yard event space surrounded by raised beds used for other delicious ingredients. Finally, we entered a 10 x 40-foot shipping container converted to a mushroom farm “where it all happens.” They cultivate 400 pounds of mushrooms per week and usually get a second flush out of the substrate. I always enjoy the sweet mineral aroma happy mushrooms emit, and this farm smelt exquisite!
This container divides into three parts. The front is the prep station; the center is where the mushrooms grow (fruit); the container’s back is the mechanical/plenum room. It’s impressive the yield KC, and the team generates from JUST a 250 square foot growing space! Their current collection of mushrooms consisted of Black Pearl Oysters, Italian Oysters, Lion’s Mane, Chestnuts, Porcino, and a couple of other oyster varieties. Check out the Two River Mushroom website if you haven’t tried Lion’s Mane mushrooms. Their Crab Cake recipe is a delectable treat you can easily make and enjoy at home.
If you find yourself hungry in Long Brach, New Jersey be sure to swing be the Whitechaple Projects and try out KC’s incredible Two River gourmet mushrooms. Check out their menu! It’s deliciouse!