Leaning down, I use the John Deere pocketknife Riddick lent me to gently slice the stems, my other hand gently cradling the caps so they don’t tumble onto the ground and get damaged by the fall. You have to be very careful with wild mushrooms—they’re temperamental creatures.
Golden chanterelles will start popping a couple of days after a good rain, starting roughly at the end of August and running through the autumn in British Columbia when there are warm days and cooler nights. They love moisture, they’re partial to shade, and they have a fondness for hardwood trees. This forest and the weather were creating the perfect crucible for them to bloom in.
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“You’re here at the perfect time,” Riddick tells me as I deposit my finds in his basket.
He would know. Now 46, Riddick became a self-proclaimed “wild food enthusiast” when he moved to British Columbia in the early 1990s. The Toronto-born chef remembers foragers knocking on the back doors of the kitchens he was working in, offering up wild mushrooms and berries for sale. “I was paying a relatively steep markup for their time and effort,” he says, “but then realized that these were things in my own backyard.”
He bought a copy of Audubon’s mushroom field guide and began taking it out on hikes, where he would keep his eyes peeled for wild mushrooms, berries, herbs, fruits, and botanicals. It took him nearly a decade to work up the confidence and courage to eat one of his finds—a golden chanterelle mushroom.