Coast to coast, more chefs are adding pitchforks to their batterie de cuisine as they create gardens to feed their culinary imaginations — not to mention their diners. From Dan Barber, the doyen of delicious, just-picked ingredients and owner of New York’s Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, to ambitious and environmentally conscious chefs on the West Coast (and everywhere in between), growing what you serve is growing in popularity.
Next door to New York, New Jersey chef Corey Heyer raises herbs and vegetables for The Bernards Inn, getting local schoolchildren involved in sowing in the spring. In Ohio, restaurant gardens are taking root at Cincinnati eateries, including Lavomatic Cafe & Urban Wine Bar, Chalk Food + Wine, Bistro JeanRo, and Orchids at Palm Court. Across the state, some of Cleveland’s chefs are getting into gardening as well, and you’ll find “homegrown” produce on your plate at Lago.
In California, arguably the birthplace of local, seasonal cuisine, many Los Angeles chefs are getting their hands even dirtier with urban restaurant gardens, including Jonathan McDowell of Blue Velvet, Rustic Canyon‘s Evan Funke, and Scott Garnett of Blue on Blue. Michael Bauer points out San Francisco and Napa restaurants where the line between chef and farmer is also blurred, including The French Laundry, Spruce, Poggio, Ubuntu, and Madrona Manor.
As both a devoted diner and home gardener, I hope this trend proves to be more than a foodie fad and we’ll find more as-local-as-local-gets produce on restaurant menus each year.