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A Chef Turns His Passion to Fungi


What else would one of the Southeast’s most successful chefs do after a 23-year career serving as executive chef and culinary director, but start a mushroom farm. For Charleston native Nathan Hood, it was a perfectly natural move.

Hood started foraging in the low country as a kid, most of his time spent outside in the woods. “I’ve always been drawn to mushrooms,” he said. Hood began cooking at age 16. His stature grew in the industry, from Charleston to culinary school at the CIA, to the Michelin starred Quince in San Francisco, then stops in Hawaii and Connecticut. However, he, along with his family, were pulled back to South Carolina.

During the pandemic, the decision to get back to his roots was an economic one that would reunite him with his love of the South’s sheer abundance of natural resources. “There is a plethora of fresh seafood to choose from, which reignited my passion for Charleston, my home,” said Hood. He signed on with well-known hospitality group, Basic Projects, just as they took over Post House Inn restaurant. They already operated Basic Kitchen in downtown Charleston and were looking to expand to Sullivan’s Island. Timing is everything. Known for his unique combinations of native and local seafood, vegetables and other ingredients, Hood basically changed the paradigm for what excellent food could look and taste like. He joined the food revolution of the Southeastern seaboard with those chefs willing to do the work to grow locally sourced custom produce, mushrooms, herbs, seafood and meat in order to create the most sustainable offerings for clients and guests.

As his success grew, so did his busy schedule. With little ones at home, the hankering to spend time with his family came to fruition. Enter Raven Farms. Starting out with 350 square feet, he began growing 160 pounds of mushrooms a week utilizing vertical growth and sustainability as a model to use everything and waste nothing. He even uses the nutrient rich matter from growing holes to make new compost with mushroom properties.

Having recently expanded to 2,000 square feet of warehouse space, the farm will begin to make new value added products and triple the yield of mushrooms available to his clients. Currently, Raven Farms supplies Charleston restaurants such as Basic Projects (three restaurants), Husk, Melfi’s, Maison, Red Drum, Nico’s and others with oyster mushrooms in blue, snowy pink, Italian and Lion’s Mane, King Trumpets and Chestnuts in a seasonal offering.

The passion that Chef Hood shares for his family, the farm and mushrooms is palpable. “I think we are just hitting the tip of the iceberg concerning mushrooms,” he said. “The nutritional and medical value is unlike any other on earth. The Lions Mane is known for regenerating nerves in the brain, for example. For thousands of years the world has been using mushrooms for healing properties and we are just now catching on.”

Hood continues his culinary consulting nationwide, as well as cooking for private parties and reimagining food choices, palate and  dining experiences. The similarities of growing mushrooms and cooking are not lost on him. “Growing food and cooking food is an ever evolving process. It continues to educate me all the time. Nothing is ever perfect, it can always be better. I love it!”


Susan Nefzger

A seasoned PR pro and food photographer, Susan is an inspirational writer who travels the world planning her trips by dining reservations. She started the GA Lottery in the 90’s and turned to food watching Public TV with Jacques Pepin, Natalie Dupree and The Frugal Gourmet. She is an accomplished home cook and lover of all cuisines.



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