By CASS MARRETT
A lightbulb moment for Arrowtown chef Darren Lynch has turned into a booming business spreading like, well, fungi.
Realising there was a gap in the Queenstown market for exotic mushrooms, Lynch began boutique growing and delivery business Remarkable Fungi with his partner, Maggie Riain, about six months ago.
They’d just offered the first taste to the public about a month ago before lockdown forced them to stop deliveries, and have used Level 4 to push on with plans for up-scaling.
‘‘We’re going to move to a premises down the road with a local environmental entrepreneur … he makes pine oil,’’ Lynch says.
‘‘We’re going to look at using waste from making the pine oil, making that into mushrooms and then the waste from the mushrooms we’re going to make into mushroom compost.’’
Riain and Lynch, originally from Ireland, moved to the Whakatipu eight years ago, both working in hospitality.
While Lynch was working as a chef at Amisfield he was taught by renowned forager Peter Langlands to forage for mushrooms, and says his passion grew from there.
The couple get their spawn from a mycologist in Dunedin who takes samples from the mushrooms he forages and sends them to Riain and Lynch.
They grow them inside in a controlled environment in Arrowtown.
‘‘Our initial plan was to sell to restaurants … we realised that what we’re producing now is not really enough for a sustainable business for restaurants so we decided to try the public,’’ Riain says.
Sustainability in mind, all the wood chippings they use come from their friend’s workshop, Arrowtown’s Rustic Soul Designs, and they use coffee grinds from local cafes, too.
‘‘We’re trying to use as much of people’s waste and make it into something special.’’
Their grow consists of 10 different varieties of mushroom including coral tooth, shiitake and oyster — the latter more closely related to humans than plants.
‘‘If a worm is in the ground close enough to the mushroom, it sends out a signal that attracts the worm and if the worm goes near it, it attaches on to it, kills the worm and it sucks out all of its nutrients,’’ Lynch says.