First hotel to have a mushroom farm is located in the East Village, mushroom-themed events planned

Photo courtesy of The Standard East Village.

It’s not farm to table at The Standard. It’s farm at your table.

At The Standard hotel in the East Village, one will find a mushroom farm, the world’s first inside of a hotel, being harvested every week for guests and shroom aficionados. This month, the hotel is hosting a cluster of events for the public that revolve around toadstools: from psychedelic talks with the Brooklyn Psychedelic Society to mushroom-growing workshops with fungi researchers. 

David Gross, the executive chef at the hotel’s Café Standard, thought the hotel’s mushroom farm was one of the coolest things when he was hired. The hotel’s mushroom farm runs along the top of the Café Standard, where Gross and other kitchen staff take turns harvesting the Blue Oyster mushrooms each week.

“It looks like an aquarium of sorts,” Gross said. “Typically, we get about 30 pounds a week out of the farm, which is a lot of mushrooms. They’re very utilitarian.”

But the hotel doesn’t work alone: there’s a science behind growing mushrooms, and it’s really a mushroom professional’s job, Gross said. The hotel works with Smallhold, a Brooklyn-based mushroom proprietor that maintains the farm. The company, which had approached The Standard in 2019 with the opportunity, also oversees other mini-mushroom farms in Austin, Texas and Los Angeles, and sells harvested mushrooms in produce markets such as Whole Foods and Safeway. 

“There’s a delicate balance of temperature, humidity and things that professional mushroom farmers should be in control of,” Gross said. “As soon as they harvest them, they re-spore them and within a couple of days they’ll start growing again.”

The cafe touts a heavily-mushroomed menu, with mushroom “pâté”, mushroom faro bowl, homemade mushroom broths, and a goat cheese omelet, which Gross said is a big hit with hotel guests and cafe diners. 

“I’ve just been finding cool ways to utilize them in different dishes,” Gross said. “We’ve got a vegetarian mushroom charcuterie. We also use the mushroom stems or the ends. We’re using the whole mushroom.”

Photo courtesy of The Standard East Village.

Besides the coolness factor of seeing some of the food you’re eating being grown right before your eyes, there are also environmental and cost-saving factors, said Anika Pivarnik, spokesperson for The Standard East Village. 

“You can see the full lifecycle of the food that’s on your plate,” Pivarnik said. “I think that’s rare, especially in New York City.”

The mushroom farm is able to give hotel guests and visitors an insight into urban farming and shows that it’s possible to grow mushrooms in an environment like a hotel, Pivarnik added. The upcoming events Pivarnik curated will feature local nonprofits and mushroom researchers, including the Brooklyn Psychedelic Society, Bushwick-raised Curandera Yaqui Rodriguez, and Brooklyn-founded jewelry brand Pamela Love. 

“I wanted to curate programming that was able to celebrate mushrooms as a food source, mushrooms as a healing medicine through psychedelic therapy, and then also touch on the fashion and design inspiration that they have,” Pivarnik said. 

This would be the first time the hotel has hosted talks about psychedelics, but the timing feels right. The mushroom-themed events come on the heels of legislation for psychedelics introduced by several Albany lawmakers in late December. The bill, sponsored by Manhattan Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, would legalize adult possession and use of certain natural plant or fungus-based hallucinogens, including dimethyltryptamine, ibogaine, mescaline, and psilocybin. The bill would also legalize kits to plant, grow, or harvest those hallucinogens.

“Mushrooms are these big living things that provide a lot of benefits to the earth and to the culinary world,” Gross said. “The sky’s the limit with them.”

The mushroom farm inside the Café Standard at The Standard East Village hotel in New York City.Courtesy of The Standard East Village.