Gourmet Mushrooms (UK) was founded as a partnership between brothers William and
Matthew Rooney in 1995. The aim was to produce a range of exotic mushrooms as an
alternative to the conventional white Agaricus which dominates the European mushroom
Utilising the unique cultivation technology of Gourmet Mushrooms Inc., who are based in the Sonoma Valley, California, cultivation began in the winter of 1995 and the first crop was produced spring 1996. The first sales were to local restaurants but by the summer we were supplying top restaurants in London including Leith's, The Sugar Club and Nico at 90 Park Lane, and organic supermarkets in London, including Planet Organic and Fresh and Wild.
We attained organic certification in 1996 which we maintained until the end of 1998. We entered 2 mushrooms in the Organic Food Awards in 1998 and our Colchester Blue Oyster Mushroom won the Highly Commended Certificate as runner up in the fresh produce section. We decided to put our organic status on hold after this because the cost of inspections and certification was becoming uneconomic. This decision has not affected our growing methods or ethics of cultivation.We renewed our organic certificate in 2002 after joining Springfield Mushrooms.
We started attending farmers markets in 1999 and were at the first market in East Anglia, at Alder Carr Farm in April, and also at the first London farmers market, at Islington in June. We have been regulars at farmers markets ever since and now attend around 10 each month mostly in London. Our support of farmers markets has led to being featured in a number of publications including Nigel Slater's column in The Observer Magazine in 1999 and Henrietta Green's Farmers Market Cookbook, Nina Planck's Farmers Market Cookbook and Country Living Magazine's Guide to Farmers Markets, all published in spring 2001.
Gourmet Mushrooms began production in 1996 with two oyster mushrooms - Sonoma Brown Oyster Mushroom and Colchester Blue Oyster. Our principle crops continue to be Oyster mushrooms although the Colchester Blue has been replaced by our superior Chocolate Oyster Mushroom. We have also developed cultivation methods for a dozen other mushrooms, many from local wild specimens and continue to collect new varieties to grow.
In 2000 Gourmet Mushrooms (UK) Ltd. became a member of Springfield Mushrooms Ltd. This is a group of East Anglian mushroom farms. This has allowed us to add chestnut mushrooms our range of mushrooms.
From 2007 we will be trading as The Mushroom Table. Since 2000 a plethora of companies has sprung up in the UK calling themselves a variation of Gourmet Mushrooms, such as The Gourmet Mushroom Company and Gourmet Woodland Mushrooms. Gourmet Mushrooms (UK) Ltd is not connected with any other mushroom company or farm using the names Gourmet and Mushrooms.
Since we have been attending farmers markets the cry has been going round the market "Ah! The mushroom man's here!" So now our customers can come and see what's on The Mushroom Table.