Full disclosure – I have an allotment, so I love anything to do with growing vegetables. In fact, I think anyone who works in or with food who doesn’t grow something edible is ill-equipped to understand food at all.
To understand seasonality, you have to follow vegetables from seed to harvest, hands on all the way. Well, that’s my opinion anyway.It’s good that a lot of chefs today have gardens close by the kitchen and not just those in the country either. It can be a rooftop space, an old back yard or if they are very lucky a proper big area.
Many are quite remarkable, such as tropical greenhouses and cliff-side allotments, and can be found all over the world. This lovely book gets a plethora of top chefs to talk in their own words about their vegetable plots.
Gardens include traditional kitchen gardens, allotments polytunnels and raised beds, aeroponic roof gardens, greenhouses, and urban community farms and micro farms
The Garden Chef presents the stories, as well as signature recipes, from the kitchen gardens of 40 of the world’s top chefs, all inspired by the ingredients that they cultivate.
We get a rare glimpse into the gardens of globally acclaimed chefs such as Michel Bras, Skye Gyngell, Magnus Nilsson, Alice Waters, Matt Orlando, Simon Rogan, and many more.
For this unique book they have allowed unprecedented access into these personal spaces to share their growing tips, favourite plant varieties as well as valuable advice for both gardeners and cooks.
The text is dense, and that’s definitely not a complaint. In these days of’scannable’ copy, this is a book to properly sit down with. A cup of tea to hand would be a good idea, perhaps from a Thermos, in order to deliver the full and authentic allotment experience.
The book includes a foreword from acclaimed chef Jeremy Fox, author of the best-selling book On Vegetables (Phaidon) and world-class authority on vegetable-based cuisine
The photos of all the envy-making vegetable plots are inspiring and done without the usual over-sharpening and Instagram style filters that so many amateurs use. These lush places look real,’earthy’ and not faked.
The same goes for the dishes, which all look delicious. The printing is high quality and the book features a paper over-jacket, quite rare now but typical of Phaidon’s consistently high standards and production values.
If you’re interested in environmentally friendly, socially-conscious and sustainable cooking, this a book for you
If you’re looking for a book that lets you into the minds of top chefs, ditto
And if you’re looking for great seasonal plot-to-plate recipes, well you won’t have to dig deep to find them here.