Mushrooms are having a moment right now, and that statement isn't limited to your standard portobellos or criminis. With more than 2,000 edible varieties of mushrooms known in existence, the everlasting trend that is superfoods has opened up our minds — and our plates — to the seemingly never-ending world of fungi. In doing so, the culinary world has had free reign to explore the diverse possibilities that these many different species have to offer. From more well-known varieties like lion's mane and king oyster to rare delicacies of the likes of jian shou qing and matsutakes, mushrooms have all the flavor, texture, nutrients, and creative opportunities that many chefs thrive off of — so much so that mushroom cultivation has become a booming craft among them.

As Ollie Hutson, the Head Kitchen Gardener of The Pig Hotels Group in the U.K., told Fine Dining Lovers, "Cultivating mushrooms is part of a larger movement to a more conscious and sustainable way of eating." That makes sense, considering that many varieties, including lion's mane and king oyster, are revered for their meat-like textures. As such, mushrooms are often sought after as alternatives in dishes that would commonly include animal proteins, allowing chefs to expand their menus to include options for their vegan, vegetarian, and flexitarian guests. But cultivating mushrooms in-house has additional advantages. Not only do they not need to be refrigerated, but their high yield-to-space ratio also means that chefs can consistently have a steady supply on hand without losing too much kitchen real estate.