Get up close and personal with exclusive, inspiring interviews and taste profiles delivered with a cheeky twist to your inbox daily.

Success! You’re all signed up. 🎉
Please enter a valid email address.

By subscribing to our email newsletter, you agree to and acknowledge that you have read our Privacy Policy and Terms.

Fairy-Certified Mushrooms and Cremini Escargot with Chef Anne Thornton

Tales of a psilocybin-infused mushroom dinner in Los Angeles.

Fairy-Certified Mushrooms and Cremini Escargot with Chef Anne Thornton
Paige Campbell Linden
BJ Panda Bear
Diane Dusting
Gregory Arlt
Photo Assistant:
Holly Satterfield

“Good luck! Tell me everything that happens!” My friends’ excessive well wishes in our group chat provoke a pang of anxiety. When the editorial team settled on the concept of a mushroom dinner with TV darling and heralded chef Anne Thornton, we all agreed that the addition of psilocybin would make for a punchy hook. With the overconfidence of any pitch meeting, I’d thrown around terms with enough weight to shield me from having to come up with any premeditated thesis—“adaptogens,” “microdosing,” “orthorexic health trends of the Los Angeles celebrity class.” Day of, I’m feeling a bit nauseated at my own smugness; little ol’ me taking magic mushrooms—and on a work assignment? How modern.

I see the narrative of the article I’m writing unfold: haunted by my own existential trauma of psychedelics, I am fearful. I take the mushrooms and feel my white-knuckle grip on social graces wane as I surrender to the trip. Perhaps things go south, and, gripped by horror, I lock myself in the bathroom. Confronted with my distorted face in the mirror, I have some kind of pithy and ecstatic revelation. Suddenly, I am overcome by a divine sense of peace, returning to the dinner a new woman. “Oh god, that’s hack,” I think as I Uber to Thornton’s house in Beachwood Canyon.

Entering the house, I echolocate Thornton from a chorus of laughter coming from the backyard. God bless Anne—she has the charisma and incisive quips necessary to save me from committing the millennial sin of making myself the subject of this article. Her voice has a confident tenor punctuated by effortless comedic timing. It takes no more than a few minutes with her to understand why she regularly receives letters from inmates who have fallen in love with her watching re-runs of the show Dessert First with Anne Thornton (the Food Network is a staple of entertainment in prisons due to its typically unprovocative subject matter). Under a halo of pink curlers, she is verbally sparring about Death Becomes Her with her friend—and makeup artist on the shoot—Gregory Arlt, along with a coterie of guests. It is easy enough to double-dutch into the conversation if you have an encyclopedic knowledge of Old Hollywood starlets and niche cultural references (a.k.a. if you, like me, didn’t get laid in high school). Following the ancient tradition of girls and gays, the conversation ping pongs quickly between Isabella Rossellini’s Instagram, false eyelashes, unpacking Barbra Streisand’s 48-hour audiobook, and a smattering of career-ending celebrity gossip.

On Anne: Robe: Magpies and Peacocks; Mules: Yume Yume; Bracelet: Paume Los Angeles

Out of the makeup chair, she’s ready for the first look of the day: a cobalt-blue neoprene shawl with a matching head wrap. “Very Auntie Mame,” the stylist says, stepping back to admire his work. “Very Mame,” we each concur with a nod. The crew falls back as Thornton and I move to the kitchen to greet the supporting cast of the dinner: the mushrooms. “I’m starting with a mushroom escargot,” she says, pulling forward a glass baking dish full of de-stemmed cremini mushrooms. “My sister had celiac growing up, and it was one of the few things we could eat, especially when we were traveling internationally.” Cranking up the oven, she continues, “I realized what I actually like about escargot is the butter sauce more than the snails.” Her breezy cooking-while-storytelling approach to hosting hints at her midwestern upbringing. She grabs a microplane and grates a clove of garlic over the mushrooms. “I’m just taking capers, vegan butter, garlic, and herbs and roasting it in the oven—it’s super simple and it’s great on sourdough. I use the caper juice because it has that nice salty brine.” She tears sprigs of fresh tarragon over the faux snails, “I love fresh herbs more than just about anything. I like to tear my herbs by hand, which you can’t do at a restaurant. It releases the oils, and it looks so much nicer.” I agree; it does look far more romantic that way.

The neoprene head wrap starts to unravel, and Thornton discards the prop as it’s no longer needed for photos. “The head wrap was part of your signature look back in the day—how did you arrive at that?” Pulling diced onions out of the fridge and sprinkling them on top of the “escargot,” she tells me, “Only 7 percent of executive chefs are female. That can be really intimidating, especially 20 years ago when I started. We had to wear that ugly-ass ‘Good Chef’ costume—it’s also known as a uniform, but I think it’s a costume. You had to have your hair tied up, but those hats they make you wear are disgusting. I started wearing turbans because they’re chic.” For Thornton, unabashed femininity was a reclamation of sorts in such a masculine and, consequently, unglamorous world. “There is a wonderful food critic named Gael Greene—she wrote a great book called Insatiable and talks about all her romantic escapades with Elvis and stuff—she came into a restaurant I was at in New York and wrote a review where she focused a lot on how I dressed. She loved seeing me embrace being a woman in the kitchen and not try to hide.” Clarifying she isn’t preaching, she adds, “Listen, other people might feel more comfortable in the uniform with no makeup, and that’s awesome. I wish I was one of them.” I get the sense she does not wish she was one of them—not out of judgment, but because she strikes me as the kind of person who would not hesitate to pursue any wish her heart desires.

On Anne, Vest: Magpies and Peacocks; Mules: Yume Hume; Ring: Paume Los Angeles

Above a kitchen window, I see a photograph of Julia Child on the set of her cooking show The French Chef. Following my eyes, she says, “One of my friends had that made up for me because I also had to have my counters raised on my show. I’m too tall.” We wax poetic about Child—her work in the U.S. Secret Intelligence division in WWII and how she discovered a passion for cooking in her 30s. Martha Stewart used to work in finance, and Thornton herself worked at Apple. We agree that Stewart is both a genius and “super hot.”

After getting the escargot in the oven, Thornton begins cutting the stems of oyster mushrooms into medallions to go alongside the enokis on top of her porcini and truffle ravioli. She tells me, “It’s all plant-based because, especially with psilocybin, when people do journeys with ayahuasca, they are told to go on a two-week protocol, and there is no meat involved. No meat, no sugar, no caffeine, all of it.” I ask, “Is it because with ayahuasca, you throw up and poop your pants?” “Exactly,” she answers. “Anytime you’re dealing with any kind of mind-bending thing, it’s good to be in a high frequency, energetically. Plants are the highest frequency, and mushrooms are one of the oldest living entities on the planet.” She holds up the mycelium, the root network at the base of her enokis, and tells me she will save it for vegetable stock. She adds, “I read that if a tree gets chopped down, the mycelium in the forest tries to resuscitate it if its root system is still there. That’s why you see shoot-offs of mushrooms on a stump. They are trying to give it CPR.” Like a true Gemini, Thornton spouts off scientific fun facts with the same excitement as a bit of hot gossip, “When it comes to mycelium, there are so many options in terms of sustainable farming, fake meat, even mushroom leather. It’s a prehistoric intelligence that has existed since the beginning of time. It’s the first known thing on this planet. We’re doing a plant-based dinner, but we’re also connecting to that greater mushroom energy.” Whenever she approaches a topic on the “woo-woo” end of the spectrum, she reflexively crosses her eyes as if to put a knowing set of air quotes around the statement while her hands are full.

Attempting to gauge how high my frequency will be by the end of the night, I ask her how she’ll be incorporating the psilocybin in each dish. Holding up a glass jar with a dried mushroom that looks like it came straight from an illustration in a Brothers Grimm book, Thornton explains, “I work with this amazing lady who grows these mushrooms. She prays over them. She’s a tiny lady who identifies as a fairy.” I’d just recently had a conversation with a friend who went on a date with a very humorless individual from Feeld who self-identifies as a fairy with the pronouns fai/fairy, so I wasn’t as gobsmacked as I should have been. Thornton explains that while THC has to be altered by heat and processing to be incorporated into cooking, psilocybin can remain a whole food in recipes. Since not all the guests are partaking in the “magic,” she plans to grate the stem onto each person’s dish “to taste.” While mushroom chocolates have become a popular medium for micro-dosing, she tells me it’s best to keep your psilocybin experience “as clean as possible, not to bring in any kind of sugar high.” Eyeing the frosted citrus cake to my right she adds, “Everything tonight is sweetened with coconut sugar, nothing refined.”

The condemnation of refined sugar seems to be as good a time as any to discuss the culture of Los Angeles. As the final frontier of the “American Dream,” California was the last stop for all the dreamers riding on the colonial coattails of manifest destiny. There is a pervasive never-enoughness in California; we’re always sprinting toward that next hit of euphoric self-improvement. In Silicon Valley, this has evolved into their culture of biohacking—a desire to work as efficiently and live as long as possible. While there is plenty of that business “acumen” in LA, there is a pervasive sense of greed in terms of pleasure specifically. Drugs, money, attention, validation—there is never enough. In the words of Mad Men’s Don Draper, “What is happiness? It’s a moment before you need more happiness.” While New Yorkers glorify a culture of self-flagellation, Californians are known as bleach-blonde, Topanga-Canyon disciples of health and wellness. We want to feel so healthy it’s transcendent—an unparalleled high. We’ve rebranded this particular addiction as aspirational. Thornton concurs with this macro-analysis, saying, “We’re finding post-COVID that the one thing you cannot buy, no matter how rich you are, is your health. It’s interesting to see these ultra-wealthy people and what do they want? They want to live longer. They want to live a healthy life. Healthy food is becoming a luxury item. You see Kim Kardashian carrying a $2,500 Balenciaga Erewhon bag down the runway.”

Thornton tosses the cooked ravioli in with the mushrooms and cashew cream, pops in serving spoons, and uncorks a bottle of wine. It’s showtime. Guests around the outdoor table stamp out their cigarettes and joints as the procession of food approaches. Several toasts are given—to Anne, to the bounty we’ve received, to mushrooms. Cheers. Eyes, eyes, eyes. The dinner guests include Anne’s partner Jonathan, friends Holly and Stacy (all writers), old friends Marc and Brent, and Gregory. Armed with the fairy-certified mushroom, Anne goes from plate to plate, grating the stem “to taste” over the ravioli. She will grate until you say “when,” just like the Olive Garden does with parm—because when you’re here, you’re family. Conversation flows effortlessly, which I find comforting—I don’t like it when other writers are silent; they notice too much. We debate if puns are high or low-brow. The table is divided on that one. As wine, mushrooms, and sourdough are passed around, ‘no thank yous’ lead to anecdotes about sensitivities, drug use, and varying stages of sobriety. In LA, struggles with addiction are small talk. Someone brings up the placebo effect. Many feel duped by finding out their feelings of relief or contentment are the result of just believing they will feel better. At the table, we all agree—isn’t it amazing you can think your way into feeling good? Why question the origin of a good feeling?

Placebo or not, by the time our dessert comes out, I feel a giddiness rising in my chest, the euphoric edging that people call a “microdose.” I can sense I’m talking a little too much or a little too fast, but my social anxiety feels de-fanged. I enjoy this feeling, knowing I’m free from the threat of a total meltdown in the bathroom. Suddenly, a new fear bubbles to the surface—what if nothing happens at all, and I have nothing to write about? “I had a nice time, eating a nice dinner with nice people”? Sure, I’m enjoying tonight a hell of a lot more than the time I took too many mushrooms, convinced myself I was dying, stripped off all my clothes, and wandered into a lake. Sure, that day was psychologically harrowing, but at least it had some dramatic tension. I hadn’t embarrassed myself even once at this dinner.

After our dinner plates are taken back to the kitchen, Thornton emerges with the citrus cake in hand. Before serving, she sprinkles crushed pistachios and a test tube of rose powder. “Rose has the highest frequency of any flower or herb,” she explains, “it’s good for your spirit.” Marc, a guest who is also my colleague, grabs the microplane and the mushroom and asks who would like a second round with their dessert. A few say yes. There are some polite, “Oh, I feel it enough already”s or “I have to drive home”s. I say, “I’ll take more; I don’t feel much.” Marc, the only other guest conscious of the story I have to write, grates the stem onto my cake with a knowing gusto. In parmesan terms, my dessert was now dangerously cheesy.

Over the course of the next hour, I feel the frequency swell in my chest. Everywhere I look, each color has a kind of potency that makes me swoon a little bit. This isn’t the kind of mushroom that produces visuals but the mental kind that accelerates emotions. I feel wonderfully sated by the meal, grateful for Anne and for each ingredient she so lovingly assembled. I notice that my thoughts are all deliciously devoid of irony. Thoughts that would normally produce an internal eye roll are not dismissed with my usual knee-jerk self-loathing. I am, for lack of a better word, happy. Pure and simple. As I hug out my goodbyes, my “thank yous” felt weighty with the overwrought sincerity of a yoga teacher’s “namaste,” but it feels good to be sincere. In the Uber home, I see the Hollywood sign as we turn onto Beachwood. Recalling the prior conversation about the “never enough-ness” that fuels so much of what we do in LA, I get a flash of resentment. I know at that moment the experience I just had would be a disappointment to the overeager group chat. And to my editor. I never reached the cliff’s edge of self-control, and I fear that will be a letdown. I think of a friend whose therapist gave them a “breakthrough” in every session—I was jealous even though it seemed like obvious malpractice. But why do we find anything short of an epiphany to be dull? It’s a shame that happiness—even for a fleeting few hours—is underwhelming news. Happiness seems to always be the elusive carrot at the end of a stick that motivates us all, but simply getting a carrot doesn’t make for much of a story. Isn’t it a shame that a good feeling seems to be only as interesting as its consequences?

Recipes Courtesy of Anne Thornton

Cremini Escargot

  • 3lb cremini mushrooms, stems removed
  • ¼ cup yellow onion, finely diced
  • ¼ cup avocado oil
  • ½ cup capers
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest, save for garnish
  • ½ cup Italian flat-leaf parsley, hand-torn and tightly packed
  • ½ cup tarragon leaves, hand-torn and tightly packed
  • ½ cup dill, hand-torn and tightly packed
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup vegan butter, like Miyokos or Monty’s cashew butter
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced on microplane
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • ⅛ tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • Optional: dry white wine
  1. Preheat your oven to 450°F.
  2. Pour avocado oil into the baking vessel. Add onions, capers, and mushrooms. Mix well.
  3. Allow to bake for 15–20 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want the mushrooms tender and the garlic herb butter sauce golden and bubbling.
  4. Garnish with extra herbs and lemon juice.
  5. Serve with bread, creamy polenta, or on top of pasta. Enjoy!

Pistachio Rose Citrus Cake


  • 2 cups superfine oat flour (you can make this in a high-powered blender and sift, or buy it)
  • 1 cup superfine blanched almond flour
  • 4 tbsp tapioca starch
  • 4 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp California-grown blend of 10 whole organic mushrooms cordyceps, lion’s mane, reishi, turkey tail, chaga, king trumpet, maitake, antrodia camphorata, shiitake, and agaricus blazei
  • 1½ cups fine granulated coconut sugar (I like Supernatural brand for baking)
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup + 4 tbsp room temperature full-fat coconut milk that has been fully mixed in a high-powered blender to make sure there are no solid chunks of coconut milk
  • 3 tbsp fresh Meyer lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
  • 4 tbsp orange juice
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Line two 8x8 pans with parchment paper, grease them with avocado oil and remove excess oil.
  3. Mix all the dry ingredients together and sift or whisk to remove lumps that will lead to clumps.
  4. Add the wet ingredients and mix until completely smooth.
  5. Divide evenly between the two 8x8 pans.
  6. Bake for 20–25 minutes, and the cakes will rise significantly.


  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp orange juice
  • 2 tbsp of coconut milk (full fat, room temperature, blended)
  • 2 tbsp of plant-based yogurt
  • 1 tbsp
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp Almond extract


  • Candied Oranges
  • Pistachios
  • Rose petal powder
  1. Whisk together the powdered sugar to ensure it has no lumps, then add all the wet ingredients.
  2. Put the frosting in the refrigerator to harden.
  3. Remove the cakes from their pans.
  4. Divide the frosting between the two cakes.
  5. Add some candied oranges to the top of each, plus pistachios.
  6. Put one cake on top of the other and sprinkle with rose powder.

Truffled Porcini Ravioli with a Mélange of Mushrooms

Truffled Tofu Ricotta

  • One block of firm tofu, drained
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tablepoon of lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of vegan parmesan, I love Scratch House parmesan
  • 5 rehydrated porcini mushrooms; reserve the water after using
  • 1/2 tablespoon of white miso paste*
  • 2 tablespoons of truffle sauce (aka salsa tartufata) I love Truffle Brothers
  • 1 tablespoon fresh truffle (optional) Truffle Brothers for the win, again
  • 1 teaspoon of truffle salt, also Truffle Brothers


  1. Begin by rehydrating the porcinis with hot water.
  2. Next, any excess liquid from the tofu should be removed without pressing it.
  3. Break the tofu into small pieces and place them in a food processor.
  4. Add all the remaining ingredients to the food processor.
  5. Process the mixture until smooth and creamy.

Ravioli Dough and Build

  • 2 cups of gluten-free baking flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cultured dairy-free yogurt like Coco June, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp olive oil (“the good kind” in Ina’s voice)
  • ¼ tsp salt


  1. Begin by making the fresh pasta dough. Set it aside in a bowl, covering it with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap.
  2. Prepare the tofu ricotta mixture as per the recipe, excluding the dried herbs. Incorporate the fresh herbs into the mixture by pulsing them until evenly distributed. Set aside.
  3. Roll out the pasta dough until it reaches a thin consistency, ensuring transparency where your fingers touch the dough.
  4. Place one sheet of pasta dough onto a floured work surface.
  5. Proceed by evenly distributing the ricotta filling onto the dough, spacing it about 1 to 2 inches apart in 2 rows. The quantity of filling per row may vary based on your dough's size.
  6. Layer another sheet of dough over the filling, then, using your fingers, gently press out any air pockets around each filling mound and seal the two sheets of dough together.
  7. Use a ravioli press or a knife to cut out individual ravioli. If opting for manual preparation, cut the dough into squares around each filling, or reduce filing by half and fold the square on the bias to make a triangle. Crimp the edges with a fork to ensure proper sealing of each ravioli.

Cashew Truffle Cream Sauce

  • 2 cups cashews
  • 1 1/4 cup mushroom broth or water
  • 2 tablespoons vegan parmesan
  • 3 tablespoons truffle sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Place cashews in a bowl. Cover with boiling mushroom broth or water and soak for 20 minutes.
  2. Place soaked cashews in the bowl of a food processor or blender with the broth, garlic, truffle sauce, and salt. Puree until very, very smooth. Thin out with more broth of water to the desired consistency.

Melange of Mushrooms

  • 1lb enoki mushrooms
  • 2 lbs king oyster mushrooms, sliced.
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion or leek diced
  • 2 tablespoons cultured cashew butter, like Monty’s or Miyokos
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • ½ teaspoons salt


  1. Roast at 400F for 7 minutes

Truffled Porcini Ravioli with a Melange of Mushrooms

  • Truffled Porcini Ricotta Ravioli
  • Truffled Cashew Cream
  • Melange of Mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons truffle sauce
  • ¼ pine nuts toasted
  • ¼ grated vegan parmesan
  • Fresh black summer truffle


  1. Bring a generously salted pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the fresh pasta and cook for 2 to 4 minutes, adjusting time according to thickness.
  2. Drain the cooked pasta, reserving 1 cup of the water.
  3. Return the pasta to the pot and add the cashew truffle cream sauce, stirring to coat.
  4. Add reserved pasta water as needed to achieve the desired sauce consistency.
  5. Next half of the mélange of mushrooms
  6. Season with salt or truffle salt, add lemon juice, truffle sauce, half of the parsley, and stir.
  7. Top with the remaining parsley, pine nuts, vegan parmesan, fresh truffles, and grated psilocybin (optional).
More From the series Food
You May Also Like