Food

Fungus among us: North Texas’ Fun Guys Gourmet Mushrooms

Fun Guy Gourmet Mushroom Plano

Owners, Dean Lusk and Hamilton Daniels care for their oyster mushrooms. Photos/Thorpeland Photography

Twenty years ago, Dean Lusk, a fourth-generation Texan, and Hamilton Daniels, a native Englishman, started their entrepreneurial journey together. It wasn’t until after Dean’s inspirational three-month-long trip to England in 2012, however, that food became a new work adventure. And it couldn’t be just any food, but something naturally and locally grown.

The former meat-and-potatoes-only eater, Dean, ate everything in sight on his first venture to the British country. Dean was shocked he managed to lose 15 pounds while vacationing, since he consumed more than usual and continued his same nonexistent workout routine.

Dean came to the conclusion that the United States’ processed foods versus the United Kingdom’s fresh food habits must have something to do with his weight loss. High fructose corn syrup, for instance, is banned throughout the entire country, an additive that is a mainstream ingredient in many foods here in the U.S.

Hamilton was eventually convinced by Dean to venture into the business of oyster mushrooms, because of Dean’s familiarity with the growing process from working with his father-in-law, a cattle rancher and small-time farmer, two decades earlier. Thus, Fun Guys Gourmet Mushrooms was born.

Fun Guys

Creating a home for Fun Guys
After a trip to the local feed store, the construction of wooden racks in a small, contained space in Dean’s home, and a couple weeks’ time, the pair’s first 10 bags of mushrooms were produced. Today, they continue to use the same organic methods used from the start, except in a new location. In the fall of 2015, they moved to a five-acre grow-house just west of Denton. This space currently has two containers dedicated to mushrooms and holds 60 bags at a time, and another container for growing microgreens.

The mushrooms have specially-made containers because everything has to be perfect for the entire eight to nine weeks it takes the oyster mushrooms to become edible. “Humidity, temperature, the level of carbon dioxide and oxygen—everything affects the way they grow,” said Dean. Fun Guys continues to learn by trial and error.

Delicious offerings
Fun Guys Gourmet Mushrooms is home to the only oyster mushroom farm in North Texas. They are a type of mushroom that is dynamic in that it turns velvety in a sauce, but can also be sautéed and grilled, and there are many different kinds. Pearl oysters are the Fun Guys staple and best-selling mushroom. Pink oysters and gold oysters are also available, but only three times a year. Other oyster mushroom specialties include, elm, blue, king and lion’s mane.

Taste the goodness
Try out Fun Guys’ mushrooms by visiting one of the local restaurants that serve them, including Whiskey Cake and Sip & Savor in Plano, Harvest in McKinney, and their first restaurant client, Prime Farm to Table in Flower Mound. Their mushrooms are also regularly sold at six local farmers markets and four local grocers, which can be found on their website. And, Hamilton and Dean are working with HEB/Central Market grocery stores, where their highly sought-after fungus will (hopefully) be available as early as this fall.

Stay tuned to see what Fun Guys has in store for the 2016–2017 calendar year!

Fun Guys

Hamilton Daniels shows off fresh mushrooms.

Q&A with Hamilton Daniels:

What’s your and Dean’s go-to restaurant in Plano?
We love Whiskey Cake; plus, they use our oyster mushrooms!

What’s your favorite part of the job?
Hard to pick one really, but knowing that we are playing a small part in providing locally sourced, sustainable, fresh food to the DFW community is most rewarding to us.

What made mushrooms so interesting to you and your partner Dean Lusk that you both decided to make a business out of it?
It started out as a side project, but the amazing response of our local restaurants and market communities reinforced the idea that we have a niche with this beautiful fungi. Having an opportunity to provide a great product and make a sustainable business out of it is truly a blessing!

How many types of mushrooms does Fun Guys work with?
At this time we only work with the oyster mushrooms, however, we are considering an expansion to two or three other types this year.

 

Fun Guys Gourmet Mushrooms

214.506.8007 | funguysgourmetmushrooms.com

Colbea Smith
Colbea Smith is a young professional who grew up in Plano and loves the community she will always consider “home”. She is a proud alumna of Texas State University – Go Bobcats! – who spent most of her days in school studying advertising and playing around at the San Marcos river. After she graduated, Colbea worked in global communications at Hewlett-Packard for over three years and then took some time off to adventure around the U.S. Colbea is a huge, self-proclaimed foodie who loves to explore and is always down to try new activities.

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