LifeFood and Drink


How a Chicago duo is bringing the mushroom trend to your table

A Chicago business is an example of how fungi can be used as an ingredient or replacement in many different meals.
Posted at 9:22 PM, Feb 01, 2023

The appetite for fungi is growing in the U.S.

From celebrities touting psychedelic mushrooms to Tik Tok's chopping up mushroom cuisine, fungi is a trending topic.

According to market research by the IMARC Group, the global mushroom market was worth $63 billion in 2022. By 2028, it's expected to climb to a value of $90.4 billion. 

Understandably, investors are eager to tap into this industry. 

John James Staniszewski and Guy Furman are the masterminds behind Windy City Mushroom.

"It's in our mission to bring mushrooms to the forefront," Staniszewski said. "We're not stopping here. I think the city of Chicago is going to see that we are the premier local gourmet mushroom farmers and that they can count and rely on us for the best quality products."

In a World War II era warehouse in Chicago's Ford City neighborhood, the duo is working to bring gourmet, regionally found mushrooms to consumers by cultivating them literally from scratch.

KGTV: Can mushrooms help treat COVID-19?

KGTV: Can mushrooms help treat COVID-19?

Researchers in California want to test whether certain types of mushrooms can help fight the disease.


Thanks to mycology, the scientific study of fungi, Windy City Mushroom is able to take bags of soybean hull and wood pellets and ultimately turn them into mushroom blocks that are incubated in their aptly named mushroom library.

Once the bags are ready to fruit, they are moved into climate-controlled pods where they are kept until they are ready to harvest. From there, they head to kitchens and eventually plates all around the city.

"I think the biggest thing is that chefs are finally getting access to use these mushrooms in so many different manners, right?" Staniszewski said.

"Getting in the door with them has been pretty easy to do because you've got a product that they don't encounter very often," Furman said. "They're not getting this from distributors. They're not going to buy this at Sysco. So, it's unique. And if that works with your menu and that works with you as a chef and that's great, but then you have to deliver on that."

For Windy City Mushroom, that means delivering everything from lions mane to chestnut to a wide range of oyster mushrooms.

The American burger of the future might be made with mushrooms

The American burger of the future might be made with mushrooms

Corporate cafeterias, fast food restaurants and some schools have looked to mushroom-infused beef as a healthier, cheaper option to standard beef.


"The nice thing is that we're opening up the door for new possibilities for cooking and for new types of entrées and things," Furman said. "So it's not just the traditional recipe that we're replacing with that mushroom; it's a whole new variety of things that you can cook with these mushrooms."

With those cooking possibilities has come new ways to add beneficial nutrients to a person's diet.

"I see there's a big divide in real, good quality, plant-based food," Staniszewski said. "When you understand that most of these plant-based foods are processed products and what you're getting with the mushroom is a full body, full amino acid, full protein profile of nutrients and everything else, that's the game changer, right? So, providing actual nutritional benefit with what we're providing as well as full entrées, and now we can substitute. If you don't want a steak, you can have a lion's mane steak."

As Windy City Mushroom works to connect with more restaurants in the city, they're also looking to launch a frozen meal line called "Fungitarian."

"If you decide that you don't like any of these fresh mushrooms, well, don't worry," Staniszewski said. "We have a cook product line that we've cooked it down, sauce it up and seasoned it right for you so you can cut it up and heat it and eat it. And so we're hopefully going to make that a readable trend for people to consume mushrooms on a much easier basis." 

Their business is evidence that although mushrooms may not be everyone's go-to food item quite yet, they are certainly putting down thick roots in Chicago.