Get ready to bug out: Baltimore pop-up restaurant plans an insect-filled menu

Diners at an upcoming pop-up restaurant will have the chance to fill up on foods with a crunch that comes from an unexpected ingredient: bugs.

Ehrlich Pest Control is teaming up with Eleven Courses Catering & Event Co. to host a “Pestaurant,” a pop-up restaurant featuring bug-laced cuisine, Sept. 26 in downtown Baltimore.

The event, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Pratt and Light Street Plaza, will aim to build awareness of food insecurity during Hunger Action Month (September), and present insects as viable protein source.

“Most everybody often fears pests and certainly doesn’t think of them as a food source, “ said Mischelle Ambrosio, Ehrlich’s district manager for Baltimore.

Ehrlich has held similar events in Washington, Boston, Los Angeles and internationally. The first Pestaurant was held in 2014.

The Baltimore pop-up will offer free samples of dishes including June beetle croquettes, fried cricket crostinis, Maryland meal worm crab cakes and grasshopper bark.

Chef Jim Benson of Eleven Courses Catering said it’s the first time he’s been contracted to serve insect-infused cuisine.

“With food, having fun is important, so I think this is a great way to bring awareness and have some fun while doing it,” he said.

As he was developing the menu, Benson looked for flavors that complimented the floral and nutty qualities of the insects rather than masking them.

“We didn’t want to create flavors that were too bold to cover that up,” Benson said.

The bugs will be sourced from farms that raise insects for human consumption.

In addition to dishing out bug-centered snacks, Pestaurant will also hold cricket-eating contests throughout the day. Ehrlich will donate money to the Maryland Food Bank for every customer that participates in the contests.

smeehan@baltsun.com

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