l’étoile restaurant in Charlottesville expands garden to satisfy its guests for a true local dining experience
This time of year, many Charlottesville are chefs have a split personality: They are behind the stove at night and nursing young plants in their garden during the day. The eat local philosophy of cooking is ingredient-driven, which means that cooking starts in the garden. Take that a step further, and it’s only natural chefs would want to cultivate their own.
Dozens of chefs have carved out plots either adjacent to their restaurants or nearby so they can control what comes in to the kitchen; many other chefs have special relationships with farmers who grow special crops for them. We have our own garden which faces the west and has three sub plots – just enough to make us and our guests happy this season. After a little Virginia history research – what did the people of Charlottesville grow and eat two generations ago. I spoke with our Chef de Cuisine Ian Redshaw and our Sous Chef Justin Martin, and made our plan
Just today I spent some time getting our garden ready for the spring season. We plan to grow three types of lettuce; heirloom spinach, radishes, heirloom carrots, wax and green beans. Candy onions and pole beans are on the way as well. That is just for the early spring planting. What are we going to do with all that fresh produce – we will harvest each day and make the menu based on what we bring into the kitchen from our own garden
It makes for some fresh, exciting eating. A little dirt on the fingers seasons the pot nicely.
“It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.” ~Lewis Grizzard “I could not agree more or say it any better.” – Mark Gresge Chef/Owner of l’étoile.