Restaurant Chefs in the Hamptons now consider a green thumb a necessity. Several of the top chefs are getting their hands dirty to grow their own vegetables with which to serve in their culinary delights. After all, isn’t that the benefit of being in the country side?
As reported by the NY Post, Drew Hiatt, executive chef at Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton does four to six hours of gardening each morning before working at the restaurant. The one-acre garden, which belongs to the restaurant and is run by Hiatt’s wife, Mary Joy, grows cucumbers, tomatoes, several types of lettuce, sugar snaps, English peas, herbs, rhubarb, string beans, radishes, peppers, gherkins, eggplants, zucchini, summer squash, and berries. Hiatt says that last summer they produced around $30,000 worth of produce. “We didn’t have to buy any tomatoes last summer,” said Hiatt. The vegetables are mostly grown in 60-foot raised beds that are three feet wide. “We can’t cover everything with what we grow, but we use it all. It’s one of the main reasons we stay here,” Hiatt says.
The garden is organic, meaning they use only natural methods to repel bug infestation. Bugs are not the only problem though. “Deer just ate half of my English peas last week,” Hiatt says. “We can’t do a lot about it.”
“Having your own garden is a dream” though, says Jean-Georges Vongerichten, chef proprietor at Topping Rose House. “Young chefs used to only want to come to the city to learn about technique and different styles. Now they want to be in the country and learn how food grows. It’s very exciting to cook in the country now. It’s the way I grew up in France.”
Chef Joe Realmuto, executive chef and co-owner of the Honest Man restaurant group, similarly overseas a one-acre farm on which vegetables are grown. Realmuto runs the well-known Nick & Toni’s, as well as other East End restaurants including Rowdy Hall, Coche Comedor, Townline BBQ and La Fondita. The garden is adjacent to Nick & Toni’s and the majority of the produce grown is used there, with only the excess being sent to the other four restaurants. While he leaves the gardening work to a local farmer, Realmuto says the garden “was super important to me. It’s something you just don’t have in the city.” He has been working in the Hamptons for 26 years, and says the garden was a big factor in that. He says, the Hamptons is known for its “spectacular” corn and potatoes.
The Chefs from the following restaurants will also be cooking with produce from their own gardens: Blu Mar, Carissa, Carissa’s The Bakery, Estia’s Little Kitchen, Showfish at Gurney’s Star Island, L&W Market and Almond, and Union Cantina.
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