Ep. 51: Wild Harvest and From the WildKevin Kossowan and Paul Rogalski talk about their hit TV series “Wild Harvest” where together with Survivorman Les Stroud they explore the culinary potential of wild ingredients in locations across Canada and the United States. Kevin is a filmmaker and avid outdoorsman who’s series “From the Wild” was twice nominated for the prestigious James Beard award. Paul is a renowned gastronomic leader at one of Canadas top ranked restaurants “Rouge” in Calgary.
Travis Bader: [00:00:00] I’m Travis Bader and this is The Silvercore Podcast. Join me as I discuss matters related to hunting, fishing, and outdoor pursuits with the people in businesses that comprise the community. If you’re new to Silvercore, be sure to check out our website, www.Silvercore.ca where you can learn more about courses, services, and products that we have to offer. As well as how you can join The Silvercore Club, which includes 10 million in north America wide liability insurance to ensure you are properly covered during your outdoor adventure.
[00:00:43] Here’s a quick the preamble to this fantastic episode. Kevin has graciously extended an opportunity to watch one episode of season six of the hit show From The Wild, simply use coupon code Silvercore when checking out, but hurry, because it’s first come, first serve until quantities run out. If you want to watch the entire series for free check out our social media or website for more details.
[00:01:11] Today, I’m joined by Kevin Kossowan and chef Paul Rogalski. Kevin is a filmmaker, cinematographer and creator of the two time James Beard award nominated series. From the wild. Kevin also offers foraging walks and field cookery camps at his, from the wild base camp, which is about a hundred kilometres north of Edmonton.
[00:01:31] Chef Paul Rogalski is a co-owner and chief culinary officer at Calgary’s a claimed Rouge restaurant. The restaurant has achieved the prestigious ranking as one of San Pellegrino’s, 50 best restaurants in the world. Together Paul and Kevin have created the show wild harvest with Survivorman Les Stroud, where they forage cook and celebrate Canada’s wild foods. Kevin, Paul, welcome to The Silvercore Podcast.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:01:59] Thanks for having us.
Travis Bader: [00:02:01] You know, Kevin was kind of funny a lil’ serendipitous, I guess, but recently I was talking with Hank Shaw and we were talking about his new book Hook Line and Supper and out of the blue, without any knowledge that we were scheduled to speak. Hank talks about cooking trout or as his Canadian friend, Kevin Kossowan would pronounces it, trewt
Kevin Kossowan: [00:02:20] Yep. Good old Hank.
Travis Bader: [00:02:23] Good old Hank. I didn’t know if that’s a Hankism or what, but I thought it was kind of funny.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:02:29] Yeah. He likes to poke fun at us Canadians and, uh, basically, you know, any linguistics kind of fun about accents and the way we say things. One of the things that Hank pokes fun at me about is, um, is calling, uh, the forest or the woods, the bush. So when I say we’re.
Travis Bader: [00:02:44] That’s what it’s called.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:02:44] Going to the bush, he said, the singular bush, the only one. That one bush. You’re going to that one. Yeah. That’s a good Hankism. Yeah. Hanks been on From The Wild a couple of times, actually we’ve been, uh, trout fishing, foraging, grouse hunting, waterfowl hunting, actually. So we’ve done quite a few things and I met Hank Shaw online. He was one of the, when I first started writing about food on the internet back when that was the thing a million years ago, Hank was one of the first commenters, um, on my blog.
[00:03:11] And so, uh, it’s funny to see him now, you know, having started his own and then it become a gigantic thing. And him having an entirely new career cause he was a political journalists back when I first met him.
Travis Bader: [00:03:23] That’s right. Yeah, funny background, but weren’t you an accountant by trade before getting into what you do now?
Kevin Kossowan: [00:03:31] No! I wasn’t an accountant, I was in finance. I have a, have a commerce degree and a finance major and I worked in finance for 14 years. So yeah. Uh, we, uh, there’s a number of us creatives in the world of food that have, you know, business backgrounds or some type of other training and end up here because it’s a creative space that offers a lot.
Travis Bader: [00:03:50] Well, what brought you here?
Kevin Kossowan: [00:03:53] Uh, whoa. Uh, I’m not sure we have enough time for that today. Um, really just a deep dive into the world of food. Uh, I, I guess I hated my career, so I was spending a lot of time doing anything else that interested me in one of those things was a food and I’d done some travel in Europe, a fair bit and kind of, um, was exploring their regional cuisines.
[00:04:15] Kind of you know, from, from region to region and it intrigued the heck out of me and came back to Alberta and, uh, really want us to dig into, well, what, what do we have here? What are the, what are the farms that are doing the best jobs? Who are the local food artisans? W what are, what are the things that make this place special? And honestly, that was like a half decade to decade long search and.
Travis Bader: [00:04:38] Wow.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:04:38] Uh, in, I guess kind of plopped me why we’re doing so much wild food production is one of the things I found that speaks the most to place and time in the world of food is actually getting outside, outside the world of agriculture in greenhouses and control.
[00:04:53] And let and, and interfacing with nature and then seeing what exists in that exact spot at that exact time when it comes to food. And, and that’s where, uh, my career has kind of led me, is to exploring those moments and exploring those foods.
Travis Bader: [00:05:09] Well, how did you and Paul, how did you guys meet each other and come up with this idea for, for Wild Harvest?
Paul Rogalski: [00:05:18] Uh, Kevin, do you want to go run with that one or do you want me to take this one?
Kevin Kossowan: [00:05:23] Yeah, go ahead.
Paul Rogalski: [00:05:24] Uh, Kevin and I met a few years ago, uh, just because, you know, Kevin’s love and passion for the world of food. Uh, he found himself working on a lot of local projects, uh, meeting chefs, working with chefs and, uh, we worked on one with a lot of chefs.
[00:05:46] Um, a few that were visiting from Europe and local chefs called, uh, Cook It Raw and Kevin was capturing it and really documenting every moment of that event. Um, so it was the first time for us really to work closely with each other. And, uh, I can tell you one special thing about Kevin is Kevin just has this ability to put everyone at ease around him.
[00:06:12] And, uh, I thought, man, this guy is, this guy has got some chops, but he’s also just a really great person. So, um, we kind of kept in contact since that project. And, um, Kevin and I also did, uh, projects, just a mini project together where, uh, we took people foraging in the field. Um, Kevin captured a promotional video. And produced it, uh, for the restaurant to use. And, um.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:06:45] And that was a project spearheaded by Travel Alberta actually. A few years ago, there was kind of a aggressive movement in the culinary tourism space in Alberta to, um, to, to do that, to tap into the, the interesting kind of forging stuff that was happening in the province and pairing foragers with, uh, chefs right. Paul, that was kind of what that is.
Paul Rogalski: [00:07:04] Yeah.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:07:04] What was prompted since then. That’s kind of fizzled and we’ve entered a pandemic when culinary tourism isn’t a thing at all anyway. But yeah, that’s how we bumped into each other. And Paul, why don’t you fly into, how did you, how did we get into the show? How did we end to start Wild Harvest?
Paul Rogalski: [00:07:19] This is a good, uh, that this might take a little bit of time. Uh, I’ll try to be as brief as possible. Uh, so a couple of years ago I was flying in from PEI where I was, um, part of an event called forage, which was a symposium made up of a lot of different chefs from across the country. And, uh, I was just flying into Calgary.
[00:07:45] I had done the thing that you’re not supposed to do, but I turned my cell phone on before we landed. And, uh, first message that popped up was a text from Les saying, hey, I don’t know what you’re doing, but I’m in Calgary, I’ve got a four-hour layover at the airport, if you want to come meet me for a beer, that’d be great.
[00:08:04] So. Of course, I’m like, dude, this is insane. I I’m literally wheels down, I’m on the tarmac. Just let me get my luggage and I’ll meet you. So we, we touched base, um, and I I’ve known Les for quite a few years. We met initially on a project, uh, where we were both filming down in Mexico and, and the idea of a television series, um, kind of like this one we’re we’re, you know, in the air, um. Anyways, so Les than I had had talked about it again, just catching up a little bit.
[00:08:37] Um, and then a couple of months later, he reached out again and said, hey, I’m coming to Alberta. And I said, you know what? If you’re coming to Alberta, there’s one person I want you to meet. So knowing that Kevin, um, is very good in the same sort of space as Les when it comes to bushcraft and, and, uh, filming and producing beautiful final products.
[00:09:07] Plus Kevin’s a musician and Les is a musician, I thought they should meet. And we had a one little, um, FaceTime meeting where I thought, you know, it’d be kind of fun. Uh, to, to get the conversation going. Um, initially I thought, you know, it’d be great if they worked on a project together with me not being in the project. Um, but that augmented in a short period of time to what is now, you know, a 21 episodes.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:09:37] In front of 4 billion people paul. That’s what it is.
Paul Rogalski: [00:09:42] Yeah. That’s our yeah, potential audience right now. So it’s, it’s crazy how things unfolded and where we’re at 20, 21 episodes in the camp currently.
Travis Bader: [00:09:51] Wow. Well, have you been in front of the camera before Paul?
Paul Rogalski: [00:09:54] A little bit here and there. Nothing uh, nothing major. Um, my experience would be more dealing with live audiences, uh, taking the stage, uh, trade shows, that type thing, a little bit of filming, uh, with Michael Smith from the Food Network. He’s, he’s a close buddy of mine. And, uh, yeah, so this is a new for me. Very, very new.
Travis Bader: [00:10:17] So I’ve been able to watch a few of the episodes that have come out and you’re on the beach and, and Les is doing some foragin’ and pointing things out to you. Do you have a foraging background yourself, Paul, or is this kind of new to you?
Paul Rogalski: [00:10:30] Uh, the answer is I I’ve always been interested in foraging, um, and I’ve been basically camping my, my entire life and there’s things that I’ve noticed, you know, oh, those are wild chives, so I’ve taken wild chives or rose hips, but just real simple stuff. Uh, where I am at now is, um, really in this steep learning curve of what is edible, um, beyond my imagination, to be honest. And to be in the field and have this opportunity to learn about wild foraged ingredients, uh, with Kevin and Les is probably one of the greatest things that I have going in my life right now.
Travis Bader: [00:11:15] Right. Well, you know, I’ve, I’ve got a background fishing and hunting and to me, foraging just wasn’t even on the radar. And my wife is a chef by trade and she loves to garden. She was into foraging, I’m like that that’s her thing, fair enough. And it wasn’t until actually going out with Hank and he took us on a, on a foraging walk down in California there and point note the abundance of wild edible food that’s everywhere and learning from his approach. I was hooked.
[00:11:46] I love it. And I love watching your guys’ show because you’re learning some great stuff. And you guys, you also have your recipes, you post them on the website, so anyone else can go out. It’s kind of like a, it seems like a bit of a black box challenge for you, Paul. Here’s some surprise edibles you can eat it, you won’t die. Go make something.
Paul Rogalski: [00:12:09] So, yeah. Yeah. I’m glad you picked up on that because it’s been very much that way for me. Um, not only figuring out the new ingredients, but uh, as Kevin will tell you, camera’s rolling, as I do it. And, uh, th the kitchen and changes for me all the time as well. So whether I’m cooking it and, uh, an outdoor situation where, you know, it’s live fuel fire. Uh, but of course, right at the magic moment where I need heat, the fire dies.
Travis Bader: [00:12:38] Of course.
Paul Rogalski: [00:12:38] So that’s one of those things to, to work around, but we’ve, um, been able to film in various other kitchens as well. And each kitchen’s a little bit unique. So it’s not just the challenge of the ingredients. It’s the challenge of knowing how hot the stove I’m working on is, is my Coleman filled with propane? How hot is the fire? Is my charcoal ready? There, there’s a lot of these elements that, uh, I can say kind of add to the colour and the heat of the episode.
Travis Bader: [00:13:10] Man, but you’re sure up for the challenge that’s for sure.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:13:13] Yeah. And his track record is nuts, uh, Les and I both, you know, thought, well, he’s going to get it wrong at least, you know, a good portion of the time. And he can’t knock it out of the park all the time. And, um, I think his batting average is extremely high. I think there’s been two dishes in 20 episodes that Les was like, hmm, I think he maybe could have done better on this one. But other than that, this has been, he’s been just killing it.
Travis Bader: [00:13:37] Wow. Well, Kevin, is that you behind the camera, for most or all of it? Are you doing most of the video work there?
Kevin Kossowan: [00:13:44] Uh, yeah, if it’s not Les behind the camera, it’s me.
Travis Bader: [00:13:47] It’s fantastic. The cinematography and then the, the pairing with the audio and the sounds, I don’t know what you call it, folly or foley or whatever. Um, it’s a really good job um.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:13:57] Thanks.
Travis Bader: [00:13:59] One thing that I thought was interesting was, um, you use the camera and you use your skills to not promote the Kevin brand. You use it to work with others. And I think you actually, at one point came out, you said that your goal is to foster collaboration and innovation and industry development. That’s pretty cool. You don’t see that a lot.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:14:23] Yeah. Fair enough. I mean, whether I was actually, it was a kind of a steady conversation real early on is do I end up as an on-camera character and, and it really didn’t need it. Um, but the fun part that I get to play, uh, that I think is probably really unique and no one would really understand is, uh, I get to go in the field with Stroud and, and look for things. And he and I both forge. So we both know a lot about plants and then I get to kind of play in that space.
[00:14:53] And then, uh, when it’s time for Paul to jump in the kitchen and he and I are talking menu and ingredients and tasting stuff and figuring out, okay, where do we take this? How do we make this fit for the show? I guess, I mean, the show really is, is obviously a priority, but really it really is, we’re trying to make, we’re trying to make a dish that Les will enjoy because fundamentally that’s what the camera’s being pointed at.
[00:15:13] So it’s been a fun challenge. I get to, I get to kind of play in both of those spaces without having my face on camera, which is just fine by me. I’ve never been the kind of obsessive about having to be on camera.
Paul Rogalski: [00:15:24] I have to elaborate a little bit, so I’m very lucky that Kevin is an accomplished cook as well. And, uh, his palette is also very similar to mine. So where I feel for Kevin is he has to deal with me as I work through dishes, creatively, where it’s like, oh, I got this idea. And then Kevin will be like, okay, start working on the camera, angles around that. And then I change it 15 times. And then at the very, very last second, camera’s rolling. I’m like, whoa, hang on one last little detail or five.
Travis Bader: [00:16:00] Uh, two artists working together. I tell ya.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:16:03] Yeah.
Travis Bader: [00:16:06] Well the, there is a lot of, uh, hunting shows and foraging shows and, and, and cooking shows out there. But you guys take a perspective that is rather unique, I think. You’ve rather than have it. You have a very cinematic field, how it’s filmed, which is great. You guys aren’t decked out head to toe and camouflage, and it’s not about the process of, it’s not about the actual acquisition of the food.
[00:16:36] The goal is not that rather it’s the full process and the respect for the food . All the way through, which I find very refreshing. At the very beginning, the work that goes into get it, the respect for how you care for it and prepare it. And then the end result at the very end. Um, do you see many other shows out there that are kind of doing a similar thing or is this kind of trying to break new ground here?
Kevin Kossowan: [00:17:04] That’s a good question.
Paul Rogalski: [00:17:08] You’re asking two guys that don’t watch a lot of TV.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:17:10] Yeah.
Travis Bader: [00:17:11] I hear ya.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:17:12] I would say that, um, my entire career has been built around um, pushing the boundaries of what people are, are used to seeing and, or, or, um, kind of removing the filters that industry applies and brought that broadcast industry and the food industry apply to how we see food.
[00:17:32] So, uh, for, From The Wild, that meant, uh, yeah, we’re showing you how, uh, an animals butchered or gutted, which, um, that that’s changed over time, but From The Wilds and season eight and in season one MeatEater wasn’t on Netflix yet, or it was just about to be. And there was really no content, uh, in the, in that space of, of, uh, most hunting shows where the grab the antlers and show the rock and roll the credits that was hunting shows.
[00:18:01] Um, and, and we really, as someone who grew up hunting wanted to expand that into, um, you know, all the stuff that happens after that, we, and in some episodes we actually do that. We just start rolling and there’s not an animal on the ground already. And what happens after that is, is the show. And so that’s not for everybody.
[00:18:19] I get that because the industry’s built this interest in, in, in, uh, 30 bucks in 30 minutes kind of thing. But when it comes to Wild Harvest, it’s not much different. It really is about approaching an ecosystem and half the time, and Paul can have my back on this one, in season two, we went into the, flying into shooting it and have no idea what we were going to do.
[00:18:41] Like two, three days prior. We just didn’t know. And then you walk into the field and go, okay, well, what’s, what’s here. What can we do? Um, and then it really becomes very ingredient centric. And I think that’s not, when folks go looking for stuff, wild food things, whether you’re hunting, fishing, or foraging, they’re usually looking for like, a trophy, like a morale or a white tail buck or a trout or something.
[00:19:04] And I think this really embraces the trophy is the stuff that’s on offer by nature. And you don’t, and on your, uh, being able to use your skillset. And your knowledge to just roll with whatever happens to be on offer and make something delicious out of it. And that’s what Wild Harvest is entirely about is just wheeling into an ecosystem and seeing what’s there and then making is beautiful and tasty plate as we can. And so those two shows are highly aligned in that side, on that front.
Travis Bader: [00:19:33] What are some of the areas that you’ve been dropped into that have been the hardest to harvest wild food in?
Kevin Kossowan: [00:19:42] Paul? Any thoughts?
Paul Rogalski: [00:19:45] Uh.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:19:48] Okay. I’ll I’ll spit out one. Think about this Paul. One of them was actually shooting, um, the mussels scene in Oregon because we were on the coast and that’s the first time in my entire career that I almost lost my a cam and all of our cards in it, falling into the ocean. Cause the rogue waves were coming in and pounding us on that, on that scene. And so that was tough. Uh, the desert, maybe Paul, that was pretty tough too. And in some ways.
Paul Rogalski: [00:20:13] Yeah. It’s um, it’s interesting because there there’s challenges of, of course where you’re harvesting from, but then there’s things that also come into play, which would be heat as an example of it just being out and getting beaten by the sun we’re filming in the sun and, uh, you know, hydration, just some of those basic things.
[00:20:34] I think some of the harvest items that, um, I have found to be difficult would be, uh, something like beaked hazelnut, where cracking and just trying to get enough meat out of a green nut. Um, you know, it’s like, okay, let’s dedicate a bunch of time to this one, the actual harvesting of it, wasn’t so bad, but the processing of it definitely took some time.
[00:21:03] Uh, and I think. We’re kind of lucky because a lot of the, I’ll say this from my, my side of things, but when it comes to difficult harvest, Les is the guy that actually is a, been getting in and getting dirty and getting cold and, you know, trying to dig out rhizomes with a pickaxe out of gravel.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:21:24] Yeah like pond lilies.
Travis Bader: [00:21:25] Yes!
Paul Rogalski: [00:21:25] Yeah pond lily tubers.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:21:26] Pond lily tubers out of the bottom of like a lake. And then, uh, another one was actually arrow-leaf balsam root. We did recently in the, Okanagan. A beautiful plant, really hard to work with in the kitchen. Um, but required a bunch of digging and some rock and stuff so, I don’t know. There’s, it’s, it’s interesting there, uh, There’s such a wide variety. It’s kinda hard to, hard to choose what might’ve been a challenging one. They’re all kind of challenging. Even like maybe making maple syrups no easy task. That’s it takes forever.
Travis Bader: [00:21:53] Yeah. Well, those, those rhizomes, that was from the, uh, the cat tails, right?
Kevin Kossowan: [00:21:58] Yeah.
Paul Rogalski: [00:21:58] That’s right.
Travis Bader: [00:21:59] How were they? I’ve never tasted those before they, how did they taste?
Paul Rogalski: [00:22:04] Not like anything, to be honest. Um, once they were processed, they really just came, uh, to light that they were a starch and used as a starch. So as a, a flour additive, or, um, a sauce thickening engagement. Uh, we, we had a chance to, and this is what I really value about the show. Kevin and I spend hours in the kitchen just learning about stuff. It’s like, okay, experiment, number one. I’ve never seen this before.
[00:22:31] Let’s, let’s see how this, um, in the case of the cat tail rhizome, how it works in a slurry environment, how does it work once we dehydrate it and powder it and really play around with it. But in that case, in particular, it was so neutral that you could add it to anything and wouldn’t even know what that it was there.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:22:49] Kind of like cornstarch. Yeah. If you had to compare it to something, is that fair, Paul?
Paul Rogalski: [00:22:53] Yeah, I think.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:22:53] Kinda.
Paul Rogalski: [00:22:54] Yeah. Or rice flour maybe, somewhere in between the two of them. The one thing that I remember being one of the surprising things to work with was pond lily tuber, which is kind of pulled out the same way that you pull out a cat tail rhizome. And I know Kevin referred to it a little bit earlier, a little hard to harvest and oh man, it’s not tasty at all. It’s it’s the opposite of cat tail rhizome, which is user-friendly. This stuff tasted like, uh, open sewer and smelt like an open sewer on a hot day. I can’t even describe it.
Travis Bader: [00:23:38] That’s a good description.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:23:39] Yeah. And, and despite that, I think the crazy part is despite that you figured out a way to use it in a dish that actually made a lot of sense and where it was kind of interesting because this is the show certainly isn’t about shock and awe and look how disgusting a wild ingredient we can use, we can put into something nice.
[00:23:54] It’s actually quite the opposite. We’re looking for nice stuff as often as we can. But, uh, even that ended up kind of taking the place of kind of had an MSG kind of note. It really performed us salinity kind of function in a dish, which is, was really unexpected. So kind of like Paul mentioned, uh, some of the biggest rewards on the project have been the opportunity to learn and take the time and have, you know, weeks in the field in production to actually learn about these things and, and dig in in ways that you would, never would casually at home. So kind of a luxury that way being on the, on the project.
Travis Bader: [00:24:26] Well, how long does it usually take to film a typical episode?
Kevin Kossowan: [00:24:30] Two days.
Travis Bader: [00:24:31] Okay. You just drop in. What’s that?
Kevin Kossowan: [00:24:34] They’re quick, it’s a day, we sh we allocate a day too. Uh, me filming less forging for the ingredients. So finding the ingredients and, and getting them in, in hand. And then, uh, we usually let, at the end of that day, let Paul know what’s up and, uh, and show him the ingredients.
[00:24:50] And then the next morning it really is, paul’s getting the kitchen, whatever is cooking spaces ready. And then we film kind of like a mid day meal and then kind of a dinner meal. And then that’s, and that’s the show. So it’s a, it’s actually tremendously quick to produce. Um, one of the advantages of actually having three guys who are really good at, at, um, rolling with it and creating on the fly.
[00:25:13] And another advantage of having a show that’s not highly contrived and highly designed. Um, it really is flexible to whatever is happening, including the weather, including whatever. That’s just the nature of, you know, going outside and things happen. And yeah, so that’s really, really lucky in that respect.
Travis Bader: [00:25:31] So Paul, if I wanted to go out and do a little foraging and I cook up a meal, and I didn’t quite know where I was going to go or what I was going to find. Uh, what sort of things, what sort of advice would you give me and what sort of, uh, uh, equipment should I be bringing in with myself to hopefully be as successful as possible?
Paul Rogalski: [00:25:56] Uh, what’s I think is brilliant to me is you don’t actually have to go far. Uh, I, I think there, the notion that I had before this project was, oh, have to get deep into the woods and that’s not the case at all. So you can go into your backyard, you can go into the alley. If you can find a place that, you know, maybe a little bit sheltered from some debris and pesticides and that sort of thing. So you can really harvest anywhere.
[00:26:26] Uh, as far as tools go, I think overall, I always bring a nice small knife with me. So it’s something that I can cut with a pair of scissors. And, uh, I don’t have one yet, but Les is in the process of developing, it’s called a hookah. No.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:26:49] A hori hori.
Paul Rogalski: [00:26:50] A hori hori. That’s it. Yeah, a hori hori, which is like this heavy duty, uh, blade on one side that that kind of is like a cross between a, a garden spade, like a little garden shovel and a knife and that.
Travis Bader: [00:27:05] Oh cool.
Paul Rogalski: [00:27:06] Yeah. That thing is unbelievable. Uh, I can tell you if you use it, it just, once you’re going to want to buy one.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:27:14] I can jump in here too to say that the, uh, the one thing that I think we both, we lack in the field and that, uh, people want to take people out into the field to teach them about forging. It’s simple stuff like bags. Like you need to put stuff in things, in something and, uh, in some cases, uh, and it’s, it’s difficult because it’s a moving target. In some cases it might be crayfish in the creek that you found, well, that needs something that can handle that, that’s a bit wet and might give him some oxygen.
[00:27:42] And in some cases it’s like little tiny things that you might need a little bowl or a little bag, and some cases it’s gigantic amounts of you know, nettle, or cow parsnip, or fireweed, where you have like bouquets of it, a big bunches of things. So it’s a bit at that. That moving target makes it a bit tricky to kind of advise people what to bring, but you definitely need things to put stuff in because when you do find stuff, you find a lot. Like when I go from mushrooms, I fill my vehicle multiple times. So I need lots of baskets. not one.
Travis Bader: [00:28:11] Love it. So I really liked the episode, obviously on, From The Wild watching Hank Shaw, cause I know Hank and had a good laugh at how much he complained about being cold and tired. And what I thought was interesting. Kevin is that you say that you are a preacher in defence of uncomfortable.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:28:37] Oh yeah.
Travis Bader: [00:28:38] That there’s a value to being uncomfortable.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:28:40] Yeah. Um.
Travis Bader: [00:28:40] You still feel that way?
Kevin Kossowan: [00:28:42] Oh yeah, absolutely. There’s a, there’s a film called WALL-E that I thought was one of the most genius films ever created. And in this little animated film, uh, humans are relegated to sitting in homeostasis and you can watch the movie and figure out what that means.
[00:28:57] But, um, I honestly feel like you’re not, I don’t live my best life, uh, sitting on my couch. That’s not when I’m experiencing building memories and learning and becoming better connected with my planet or my friends or whatever. So I, I, I quite embrace the district of homeostasis and reminding yourself that you’re alive and, um, reminding yourself that you’re a hot blooded creature that is capable all of doing things.
[00:29:25] I think that that feels good basically, but it’s also good for your body. It’s good for your brain. Uh, so yeah, it’s funny. Uh, we put Hank in some pretty. Um, some situations he’s not used to, let’s just put it that way. I think, I think there’s a bit of a difference between going to an go go into, I guess, guides, guided lodge kind of scenarios, you know, in common in the US and then us crazy Canadians who are like, let’s walk 10 miles into the bush up a river.
[00:29:54] And where there’s nobody and nothing and sleep under a tarp on, in a thunderstorm. Yeah. So that’s, that’s the kind of stuff that we put Hank through. That is a bit bad on me, but in some ways I feel, I feel fine about it because really we all need a bit of a kick in the butt the odd time that we’re more capable than we think of.
[00:30:09] And we can, we’re more resilient than we, we feel we are. And sometimes we’re just not as prepared as we should be. So that means everything from the kinds of things that Les Stroud has spent a lot of his career teaching people about, uh, to just basics around clothing and back country equipment, uh, which doesn’t need to be a lot, but it needs to be something so that, you know, uh, you know, how to, how to take care of yourself outside.
Travis Bader: [00:30:34] Well, Kevin, you take a lot of people out and teach them about foraging and you introduce them to living off the land. You introduced them to hunting and fishing. And I think at one point you said a few years back, you made the very conscious decision to start a new hunter on small game, like grouse, as opposed to starting them on big game.
[00:30:58] And I think that’s a very wise decision. But I’m wondering, is there a story behind why he say he took me that very conscious decision?
Kevin Kossowan: [00:31:07] Yeah, because I’m an idiot. And, um, early on, when we were producing From The Wild, we just, you know, any, any friend that expressed interest in hunting, we thought, oh yeah, we’ll take them out. Like, what do you want to go for? And they would, um, well, you know, kind of natively and genuinely, it was just one people to have a fun time.
[00:31:24] And what would interest you? The problem is, is that optically, uh, they would watch a series be like, I want to go after black bears, which was really common and big game or a moose, or they want to hunt grizzly bears and wolves or whatever.
[00:31:37] It’s just funny what people kind of feel like they can do right off the get go. So we actually introduced a lot of first-time hunters into, into bear hunting in the spring. Uh, and while it’s doable, I just don’t think it’s, uh, it was after having done it for two, three years. I realized, man, this is a mistake.
[00:31:55] Um, the skills, the skillset that you need to hunt a black bear is, is in the advanced level, uh, for a variety of reasons, including that they can kill you. And, um, so there there’s that. And then, um, you know, have having introduced some people to something as benign is walking the roads for grouse, uh, that seemed like a lot better place to start.
[00:32:17] Your life’s a lot less at risk. There’s a lot less that can go wrong. And so, uh, I wish I had, uh, maybe thought of that little nugget of wisdom sooner, but yeah, I would advise anybody mentoring people in the world of hunting or fishing, like start, start small. Start easy, start with easy wins so that it’s fun for people rather than bunk.
[00:32:36] Like don’t go on a mountain sheep hunt as your first hunting trip ever go for something a little, a little easier. Um, yeah, so I don’t know, we learned kind of the hard way and make some mistakes. And one of the things about the show though, and I would say Wild Harvest is the same. Is we’re not, not afraid to make mistakes on camera, not afraid to have lived through some of our learning on camera, uh, and to be better people and better outdoorsmen, uh, you know, a few shows down the road than we started. There’s no shame in that in my opinion.
Travis Bader: [00:33:05] I like that. Now Paul, I know you’ve talked about overlooked or hated type of wild foods that are often treated like weeds, are sprayed with chemicals are destroyed because it’s interfering with crops that are commercially growing. Uh, once people start to really, they watch Wild Harvest and they start embracing what they can actually find.
[00:33:30] And like you say, you can go in your back alley, you can, you can forage on the sidewalk really, if you, if you know what to look for. Uh, as a chef, what would be some of your favorite wild foraged foods that, uh, you would like to cook with?
Paul Rogalski: [00:33:50] Oh, that is, um.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:33:52] That’s a good question.
Paul Rogalski: [00:33:53] Yeah, because there’s so many, and I think the past, um, year of my education when it comes to forged ingredients. Uh, I can say that almost everything that, uh, we have brought in from, from the wild has been delicious and it all has a place. Um, there’s definitely some considerations which would be based on volume. And some things are definitely easier to, to get, uh, a large volume of products without damaging the environment.
[00:34:34] Uh, fireweed would be one of those things, uh, especially this time of year. Uh, and that’s the big thing you don’t want to go out and harvest and damage the environment. Which, uh, I think fundamentally changes how I think of the ingredients. Uh, as an example of something like a delicate, beautiful little flower called spring beauty is delicious, I wish I had buckets full, but that’s not the way they grow.
[00:35:04] So it’s capitalizing on things that do have volume attached to them and serving them in a way that I can showcase the abundance. Or um, really dialling it down and having things that are more dear, uh, and the way they grow and challenge them the way they grow and, and really tell that story on a plate as well.
[00:35:30] Uh, and aside from that, really the, the big thing that I’ve learned is a lot of the elements, um, when it comes to flavour, uh, that wild ingredients present are very similar to what you have in commercialized production of, of produce. Uh, there’s some, some ingredients that are better. There’s some that are sweet and, uh, it’s, it’s really, as a skillset, uh, working with wild ingredients, it’s no different than working with a typical ingredients that you could buy in a supermarket.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:36:08] One of your favourites, Paul, I’m going to interject. Uh, I know is milkweed. And that’s a great example of what you’re talking about, where it’s a plant you have to go easy on, uh, for a variety of sustainability reasons is, uh, surrounding the Monarch butterfly and other things. But, uh, holy heck, is that a delicious piece of green vegetable, right?
[00:36:25] But like, and again, to your point, it tastes a lot, like you would expect of a delicious green vegetable. It’s not going to challenge people’s understanding of food. Um, cat tail also with it’s cu, kind of cucumbery spicy notes. Um, really familiar. It’s not much of a reach, for your palette.
[00:36:41] Now I wouldn’t say many of the ingredients we have, spring beauty, the little, little tubers blow. It tastes like petite, like shockingly, like potatoes. So they’re not, again, just not, not as, not as weird as you think. Whenever people think, oh, wild food, oh, that’s weird. Or, oh, forge, that’s weird. I think, yeah, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries.
[00:37:01] There’s lots of things that we know in the world of food in agriculture that are from the wild. And, uh, and they’re not weird. It’s not nearly as bizarre as you think.
Paul Rogalski: [00:37:11] Yeah.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:37:11] And then there’s rock tripe. So there’s some weird things.
Paul Rogalski: [00:37:15] Rock tripe is, uh, yeah, that was the challenge.
Travis Bader: [00:37:20] Well, I really like the fact that you guys, I emphasize ethical harvesting. You’re not just going out there, wipe it out a full patch and you’re drawing the connection to how this is a food source and an important part of the biology and the, the makeup for other animals.
[00:37:38] Like you’re just saying there, the Monarch butterfly. I got to imagine that putting a show like Wild Harvest, is going to have a two pronged approach of number one, educating people, but it’s also going to encourage people to get out there and start foraging.
[00:37:57] Have, have you noticed, and like, particularly with COVID, I’ve been finding there’s more and more interest, people talking to me about hunting and foraging and fishing and being self-sufficient.
[00:38:08] Have you, have you guys noticed there’s a marked increase in the demand for this kind of knowledge? And also, have you noticed that your, maybe some of your favorite spots are starting to get wiped out because of new people getting into it?
Kevin Kossowan: [00:38:22] Well, I’d say last year I noticed a big bump up. We started seeing like trailer, you know, uh, campgrounds that didn’t exist before in the, on crown land in the middle of nowhere. Uh, and that be those quite common. But, um, I would say this year, we’re finding the complete opposite. Why? I don’t know, it’s like people burned out on that and I’m like, oh, maybe this isn’t so bad and I don’t have to be so smart.
[00:38:42] And so self-sufficient, um, but yeah, I, I, I have a few opinions on this. Um, and we’ve, again, covered a lot of this on camera, but, uh, I’m personally of the opinion, and I know Les is largely philosophically aligned and Paul probably too. That uh, our objective is to introduce people to these species so that they actually care about them.
[00:39:03] And in, so doing in caring about them and knowing about them might care a little more about how we do our forestry or how we do some of our other resource extraction. Um, for example, uh, oh boy, uh, chaga is a perfect example. I’ve been, I had my hand slapped on social media for pictures of harvesting chaga, and people like to really talk about the sustainability of chaga harvest and chaga is a fungus, uh, kind of like a coffee tasting.
[00:39:29] Delicious, good for you, antioxidant fungus, it’s really, really great. I love it, we use it at home. But my, my knee jerk reaction to that is. When you use your paper towel today, or your toilet paper, did you discuss with it, the sustainability of the chaga harvest and the clear cuts that generated those paper products are the ones that we shipped, shipped, shipped to China or somewhere else?
[00:39:52] Uh, we don’t, we don’t think about sustainability. You know, people get pretty fussy about sustainability with forging. But then we just completely like mow the boreal forest or, or any other ecosystem or completely destroy the grasslands ecosystem with agriculture and fence lines and such, and don’t really think anything of that.
[00:40:10] So to me to get to too, in my face about, uh, sustainable foraging, when we have all those other practices as a species is, uh, is just a moot point. There’s just, it’s, there’s so much bigger issues to discuss. And then did I pick the chaga at the top of the tree and the bottom of the tree?
Travis Bader: [00:40:30] It’s funny what people get their knickers in a twist over isn’t it.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:40:35] Yeah. And how blind they are to the fact that they live in a wild space. You know, I live in the city, it’s in a wild space, it’s an ecosystem. It is. People don’t think of that, but that’s how it works. And, uh, yeah, and, and the impact and the general day-to-day impact that they have on the environment, people are pretty blind to.
[00:40:54] Which is another reason that I think encouraging people to get outside and explore what’s in their back alley, like Paul, to Paul’s point. If they find out holy crap, I just saw someone spray right where we pick our dandelions every spring that makes you not feel happy.
[00:41:10] And then you maybe you’ll do something about it. Maybe you’ll maybe you’ll say something, maybe being our policy will change so that we’re not, you know, doing, making stupid moves uh, uh, in, in our environment just to suit aesthetics or something shallow, and maybe we’ll have a broader perspective on how we interact with the environment. So that’s my take on that.
[00:41:31] So yeah, we’ll encourage people to forge more. Yeah, there’ll, they’ll have a bigger impact on wild things. Cool, great. Because then when there’s a permit to go out to a forestry management area, that’s going to wipe out 5,000 hectares of forest. Maybe someone will stand up and say, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Maybe not.
Travis Bader: [00:41:51] It that’s one thing I find the show does very well, is it shows how we are all apart of the environment and it’s not, hey, there’s nature and there’s me.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:42:03] Yeah.
Travis Bader: [00:42:04] There’s nature. And here’s the plants and there’s the animals and there’s man or human.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:42:10] Well I’m glad that comes across.
Travis Bader: [00:42:12] Oh, yeah, no, it does. It does. And it’s a, it’s like, um, and I mentioned it before Shane Mahoney, uh, back east, he’s a prolific conservationist and a hell of an order. And he says, you know, I’m quite often, I’m, I’m asked about how can I square myself with the fact that I love animals and that I hunt.
[00:42:37] And he says, it’s, it’s not a question of there being a different set of rules for them in a different set of rules for me. The question is I am one of them, or the fact is I am one of them and we all work together and we have to take a look at how that all comes into play. And that’s, that’s one of the takeaways that I see on, on Wild Harvest.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:42:59] Yeah. I’m glad that comes across. We absolutely are part of the ecosystem that you, that we live in and every decision you make every day, impacts that. And if you don’t want to consume a living thing, then you choose death. Like as humans too, to live, we’re killing a species of something.
[00:43:16] And I’m not very speciesist as Paul knows, it doesn’t matter to me, whether it’s a rabbit or a deer or a bear or a fish or a plant. Or a fruit or something, like something’s life is ending and it’s, you know what, to be honest, in, in the shooting of the show, Les and Paul and I talk a lot more about this thing gets edited into the show. Right Paul? We talk about it a lot. It’s, it’s.
Paul Rogalski: [00:43:38] Yep, daily.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:43:38] It’s really present in everybody bloody episode where we’re talking about interestingly, like just the ethics of harvesting a tree or the ethics of harvesting a plant and how we approach nature and what we, you know, kind of how maybe at what we should be doing rather than what we’re doing.
[00:43:55] And so anyway, Paul, do you wanna speak to that at all? Like how has that been important to you?
Paul Rogalski: [00:43:59] Uh, I, it’s, it’s great to hear, um, that your, your take has really been what we’ve been desiring from a project. Uh, and I think one of the biggest wins and I’ll, I know that when Kevin, Les and I are in the field, I mean, it’s, it is organic, it’s legitimate, it’s unscripted.
[00:44:26] Um, it is just capturing that moment. But the way that the story’s been told when it comes to the edit, I think really shows that very well. And I also have to add, um, the, the timeliness of this with COVID. We, we didn’t start this knowing that COVID was going to be a thing and everyone would just was going to be dealing with it.
[00:44:51] But, um, what’s been one of the most satisfying things is to read some of the emails coming in from, uh, people that have been watching the show and, and quite a few people. And this is what shocks me and Kevin. Has heard me say this a few times. We’ve we’ve got both male and female people saying your show brought me to tears.
[00:45:14] It’s about time there’s something like this. I felt connected, I felt part of a bigger picture watching your show and really that that’s kind of the ambition. We want people to go outdoors and to breathe the air, to take a moment acknowledge where they are in this world. And, and who we are in this world, what, what we are as a species, um, might be a little bit further down a rabbit hole that the show doesn’t speak of.
[00:45:44] But we do, as Kevin was saying, when, when we are together and we’re talking about things and the connectivity of it all, um, how plants do, you know, there’s scientific proof, proof that plants do. Communicate to each other, that the forest looks after the forest. Um, we’re, we’re all tuned into to this world.
[00:46:05] And you know, when the, the number one battle right now, um, for our species is fighting algorithms and the polarization of, of, uh, politics and how something like COVID instead of bringing people together, seems that it’s divided people in many ways. And that’s, that’s not. Really the place that we want to exist.
[00:46:32] We want to tell a story about togetherness and we are a part of a huge collective and our energies do melt and we do combine and we are small pieces in a greater sum. And, um, yeah, with all that being said, uh, again, to, to hear you say that Travis, that, that you picked up on that from, from watching the show, means a lot to, to us.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:47:03] And, and just one more thing is to, to Les Stroud’s credit, um, he is, uh, highly attentive to these concepts and he knows that there’s, we have to dribble it into the show. We can’t just hammer this in, like be preachy about it. So let’s, lets slide those little lines in there that make people aware that this is where our head’s at.
[00:47:24] And without, uh, making the show, you know, to too spiritual or esoteric or a high concept and let’s try and keep it like on it’s feet on the ground. So I give him credit for that because we could spend a lot more time diving into this uh, but, uh, instead we do it in moderation.
Travis Bader: [00:47:40] You know, I think there’s probably a desire out there, in moderation. I think there is a desire, desire there for people to, uh, to hear more of that. Maybe, maybe it’s not on the Wild Harvest show. I mean, you got to speak to that algorithm and you got to speak to, if you want to get the message out, you want to be able to do it in a way where people will actually be watching and listening.
[00:48:00] But, uh, I wonder if a Wild Harvest, uh, around the campfire wild harvest outtakes, or just those conversations that happen outside, I think are, are very important. And I think there is a desire that people want to hear about that because that whole idea of interconnectedness and, uh, the spirituality of all of that, the esoteric sort of concept behind all of that.
[00:48:25] Is something that has sort of been missing from the conversation for, for some time. And I think when I talk to other people, I do get the sense that there is a craving for that.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:48:38] Yeah. And that there’s an you talk, you don’t have to talk to money outdoorsmen with a lot of experience that, to, to find that, um, that spirituality seep in again, that discussion. Spirituality that would have existed a few you know, a few hundred years ago by default in any, you know, any group of people that live connected to the outside and connected to the world in a very different way.
[00:49:00] Um, yeah, we certainly went through a disconnect period, but I don’t, I don’t disagree with you. There’s an appetite for it. I would say we dive a little deeper into it in From The Wild, as far as challenging, kind of some of the ideas. Uh, like challenging, lots of ideas, everything from like the militarization of hunting with camouflage and night vision and.
Paul Rogalski: [00:49:18] Drones.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:49:18] Semi-automatic weapons and drones. Yeah. To, um, you know, to, to those kinds of things, those kinds of concepts about our connectedness to nature and that, uh, and the oneness of, of the whole thing.
[00:49:29] So, uh, we do, we do dabble it in that series because we have, uh, you know, I don’t know, just kind of a broader mandate, I suppose. And so it, it, it does get found there, but I don’t disagree with you. There’s probably an entire series that needs to be built just around that idea.
Travis Bader: [00:49:45] Well, is there any, I’m looking at the time here and a conscious of the listeners want to make sure that, uh, on their drive in they’re able to get most of the conversation. Uh, is there anything else that we should be touching on?
Paul Rogalski: [00:50:00] Oh, I don’t know. Uh, Kevin, can you think of anything?
Kevin Kossowan: [00:50:10] Uh, nope. No, we’ve covered a lot of ground. Um, I’ll leave it in squarely in your, in your lap Travis, as far as what you want to cover.
Travis Bader: [00:50:16] Okay. I, if people want to watch your show, uh, how, how can they do that?
Kevin Kossowan: [00:50:23] I’ll dive into that. Um, Wild Harvest is currently airing on 400 plus PBS stations in the United States. Uh, so it’s being aired by American public television all over the place, uh, on PBS. And, um, so it’s there, it’s about to air, um, on National Geographic, Pacific, Asia Pacific.
[00:50:44] Uh, so it’ll be in that market for a while, and these are fairly long licensing terms. So. Uh, the show will get looped by, you know, different stations at different times. So the timing isn’t exactly, you know, a specific thing. That’s hard to pin down for folks, but they’ll have to look it up in their, in their region.
[00:51:00] Um, From The wild is on, on, uh, Vimeo on demand and always has been. So that’s, uh, eat most easily found at our website, uh, FromTheWild.ca has all the links to all the seasons. We’ve got seven of those being, uh, kind of up and ready to watch now. And am I missing anything, Paul?
Paul Rogalski: [00:51:18] Uh, YouTube.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:51:19] Oh, yeah. Yeah, they’re just, they’re on this uh, Survivorman, Les Stroud Survivorman, I think is the YouTube channel and my right Paul?
Paul Rogalski: [00:51:25] Yep.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:51:25] And then there’s a playlist, uh, there with the wild, Wild Harvest being aired in, or aired, or, uh, available online where we’re not geo blocked, uh, which is a term that means that if you’re being aired, for example, in the United States, we can’t air that on YouTube in the United States. So that’s available in Canada, on YouTube and other countries.
Travis Bader: [00:51:46] Excellent. Well, Paul, Kevin, thank you very much for being on The Silvercore Podcast. I really enjoyed speaking with the two of you.
Kevin Kossowan: [00:51:55] Yeah. Likewise. Thanks for having us.
Paul Rogalski: [00:51:56] Yeah, me too. It was a pleasure.
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