Cookery Feature - The Garden Chef

A modern retake on the days when many top chefs had the gardens - and probably the home farm too - of a large estate to call on when writing the day’s menu, the return of the kitchen garden is one of the most welcome developments in recent restaurant (and hotel) history.

It’s happening all over the globe and The Garden Chef, Recipes & Stories from Plant to Plate (published by Phaidon, £29.95 /€35) celebrates the trend through the stories of 40 of the world’s top chefs who share the stories of their gardens and signature recipes based on ingredients used straight from the garden. Ireland is not represented, alas, but there are plenty of familiar names including Robin Gill, Skye Gyngell, Magnus Nilsson, Simon Rogan and Alice Waters, as well as many inspiring restaurants and gardens from chefs who may be less familiar.

The gardens vary enormously, from roof garden, polytunnels, allotments, walled gardens to cliffside vegetable patches, but they all tell unique stories, provide hints on choosing the best varieties for their growing conditions and highlight the importance of the garden for sustainability, and as a peaceful refuge away from the busy kitchen.

Shortly after publication, one of the featured restaurants, Mirazur, the Cote D'Azur restaurant from Argentinian-born chef Mauro Colagreco, was announced winner of The World's 50 Best Restaurant Awards and the citation for the number one spot on the list praises the restaurant’s “three levels of cascading vegetable gardens” in which Colagreco and his team cultivate “the sweetest produce.”

With an introduction by the widely respected US pioneer in plant-based cooking, Jeremy Fox (author of ‘On Vegetables’, and with a new restaurant Birdie G’s recently opened in Santa Monica), it’s the perfect summer cookbook for chefs everywhere - and a great read for anyone who’s interested in the Plant to Plate ethos.

Sample Recipe by Mauro Colagreco, of Mirazur:

“This is one of my oldest recipes and one of the most heartfelt dishes I have ever created. There are so many memories in this dish. It reminds me of my childhood when my mom used to cook green beans for dinner and put some pistachios on top to decorate the dish. I grow various varieties of green beans in my garden and get my cherries from an incredible producer just 20 minutes from Mirazur in la Vallee de Gorbio, a small town in the mountains. The idea for the dish came to me when I grew green beans for the first time in my garden: I remember having so many ideas for how I could use them. I wanted to share these memories with my customers in a unique dish.”



extra-virgin olive oil
white balsamic vinegar
50 ml pistachio oil?

200 g green beans
100 g lima (butter) beans
100 g yellow wax beans
1 Tromba d'Albenga squash
small piece of fresh ginger, peeled
olive oil, to taste
fleur de sel, to taste

1 shallot, finely diced
100 g cherries, pitted
chickweed flowers
A red onion, finely diced
20 shelled pistachios
wild arugula (rocket) leaves


VINAIGRETTE Make a vinaigrette with some olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, and the pistachio oil.

VEGETABLES Blanch the three types of beans in a pan of salted boiling water for a couple of minutes. Drain, then refresh in a bowl of ice water.
Use a mandolin to cut the squash lengthwise into long, thick slices.
Drain the beans from the ice water, put them into a bowl, and flavour them with freshly grated ginger, olive oil, and fleur de sel.

TO SERVE Place the beans on plates in an arrangement that creates volume. Add the squash slices, shallot, cherries, oxalis, and chickweed flowers, and sprinkle the salad with the vinaigrette and fleurde sel. Finish with the diced red onion, 5 pistachios per plate, and the wild arugula (rocket) leaves.

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