Andrew Mohanu is the co-founder of Tweed shire-based gourmet mushroom farm, Shroom Bros, which is the latest stall to join the Mullumbimby Farmers Market.
•What do you sell at the market?
The three favourite gourmet mushrooms – Oyster, King Oyster and Shiitake, and these are always available. In summer we also have pink and yellow oyster mushrooms. In January we will also be selling a mushroom called the Cinnamon Cap. It’s very similar to the pioppino mushroom (very popular in Italy). In addition to fresh mushrooms we also sell mushroom pates and grow your own mushroom kits.
•How did you come to be a mushroom grower?
I’ve always loved mushrooms. Not just mushrooms but fascinated by fungi in general. I was about to start a truffle farm in Transylvania region of Romania. My grandparents live in that ideal truffle-producing region. I also have fond memories of exciting foraging trips in Romania and buying exotic species from Gypsies.
•When did you start growing them?
My first batch of mushrooms were grown in my parent’s closet whilst they were on holiday. Unfortunately when they returned, my father wasn’t very excited about having his closet turn into a mini mushroom farm. However when he started to see them grow the excitement built. Unfortunately he threw away the logs because he didn’t have enough patience to wait for the second flush! I have since forgiven him for this treason.
•Your mushrooms are a bit different to the usual ones in the supermarket – why do you grow the varieties you do?
The typical button mushrooms you see in supermarkets are grown on manure and cultivated in huge warehouses. Gourmet mushrooms grow in a much more natural environment and the substrate is generally wood/straw and they are much more exciting and better tasting. Furthermore, all gourmet mushrooms have medicinal properties.
•Your favourite mushroom recipe?
Easy question- white cream mushroom pasta!
•Tell us something most people wouldn’t know about you?
My whole family is in the medical field either nurse or doctor (and a Radiation Therapist myself). So branching out to cultivating mushrooms was a bizarre career change for them. However, they’ve all been bitten by the excitement of growing mushrooms. Although not enough to persuade them to help me harvest on Saturday nights (Saturday is the only day we take a break from farm work, however they still need to be harvested daily so we go in the evening for a quick harvest).