Monday, April 11, 2011

The Culinary Gardens - Soil Preparation

I'm excited. Yesterday, we were able to get our hands dirty digging in the dirt. Did we plant anything you might ask? Nope. We spent the day simply on soil preparation. Removing clumps of grass from the expanded portion of our garden and taking out what seems like a never ending amount of rocks and stones from the soil. We were also able to dump the last of our kitchen compost on to the soil. OK, now that i've given you the garden update, let me tell you what I'm excited about....(as if that wasn't enough)

If you read closely, you'll notice my continued use of 'we' not 'i' or 'my dad and i'. Sunday was a really special day at the Garden because the whole Sheppard Mansion team took part in what amounts to serious grunt work. That's right. The whole team. Cooks, dishwasher(yes, dishwasher), baker, waiter, and store clerk all took part in getting the soil ready for what I know is going to be an AMAZING season for us in the garden.



Here's a short little video to update you on our garden progress....does anyone else think that rich, Spring dirt is sexy? Maybe it's just me...



If you follow my blog(if not, read some other posts, they're good for your health), you'll know that I'm a little frustrated with the over use of the term 'farm to table'. Suddenly every restaurant that buys food from a farm is calling themselves 'farm to table'. Congrats. Listen, I use WebMD, that doesn't make me a doctor. If you have a farm connected to your restaurant, you're 'farm to table'(hello, Chris Edwards and Patowmack Farm, wassup?)....if you don't, you're simply sourcing good ingredients.(small caveat...growing your own herbs, while a great idea, doesn't qualify either) Simple as that. If your cooks, waiters, clerks, bakers and dishwashers help in the garden you're, well, let's think of a term....SHEPPARD MANSION.

It MEANS something to work with produce that you've grown. It MEANS something to eat at a restaurant where the staff has worked in the fields to bring you the most amazing produce. Think about that the next time you tuck into a bloomin' onion. Here are some words from Sheppard Mansion Sous Chef Brent Golding on the importance of working in the garden.



Certainly, there is a realization that we can't grow produce for ourselves year round. That's when our brilliant group of local farmers comes into play and quality sourcing is key. We also don't grow everything under the sun. However, when we can grow it, we are. It is difficult to describe how working in the dirt to raise produce informs your cooking. The very best way to get it across is for you to come eat the food.(maybe it would help to take a walking tour of the Culinary Gardens....anybody interested?) Taste carrots again for the first time. Taste leeks, beets(yes, beets), snap peas again for the first time. It's gonna be an amazing grooking(that's my new word....growing and cooking) season in the 717. Have you make your reservations yet?

4 comments:

Kathy said...

Awsome!

Celtic Wolf said...

After I read this blog post out loud to my husband, he said, "You have to post, to tell him you're so inspired by his work, to tell him how much you enjoyed this, and let him know people are reading." I said, "what would I say?" Oh, I guess I just did. Chef Andrew, you rock!

Chef Andrew Little said...

Thank you so much for following! Please spread the word!!!!

Linda G. said...

enjoyed watching your hunk of a sous chef...oh...that's my boy!...kidding...you have ignited a spark his father and I never could...planting???...weeding???....it's a miracle...maybe we never paid him to help...or gave the incentive of creating from his labor...best wishes for a hearty growing season...
the sous chef's mom