The Chef’s Garden at Post Ranch has always been a central part of our culinary philosophy. This year, with the help of our gardener, Fiona, we are expecting the garden to reach new heights. A few months ago, when frost covered the ground each morning and the beds lay barren, aside from a few lone mustard and kale, we began planting thousands of seeds in the sanctuary of our tiny gardening shed. Sheltered from the cold and coaxed to life below the glow of two lights, the trays of tiny seedling provided a jump start to this year’s crop. Now, every corner of the garden is teeming with life. For me, the garden is more than resource for great ingredients, it is a refuge to go and find inspiration. Each afternoon I will take a few minutes to walk down into the valley and pick a few herbs and delicate blossoms for the evening’s menu.
As I peruse the rows of plants, I begin to envision how our menu will evolve. The crisp white pea blossoms are giving way to plump sweet peas and tiny red apples have appeared from nowhere on our dwarf Pink Pearl trees. These walks through the garden serve as a reminder that everything is in a constant state of transformation. Each ingredient is at its apex for a fleeting instant; and as a chef it is my goal to capture that moment. In today’s world, with ingredients changing hemispheres with the season, it is easy to forget the magic of a freshly picked strawberry or an unrefrigerated pea. There is no better reminder than spending a few minutes in our garden.
We have some ambitious plans for the garden this year. In fact, they are so ambitious that I now refer to it as our ecology program rather than garden. This month we are installing three bee hives and are drawing up plans for a large chicken coop. Our makeshift growing room will be replaced with an actual greenhouse that can also be used for small private events, and a wood-fired oven will enable us to cook ingredients straight from the garden. It is an exciting time and I can’t wait for our first small event.