What does a Chef’s Garden carrot have in common with a Vera Wang wedding dress? Ask Chef Jessica Biederman.
“Like Vera Wang, you tailor the plate to fit the Chef’s Garden carrot,” she said. “With other carrots, you tailor the carrot to fit the plate. That’s the kind of approach that we’re taking. We’re taking each carrot individually and making a dish that we feel best represents that carrot’s flavor and its shape and all kinds of things.”
Chef Jessica is executive chef at The Bristol inside the Four Seasons Hotel in Boston. She’s joining forces with Culinary Vegetable Institute Chef Jamie Simpson in Boston February 27 for a collaborative Chef’s Harvest Dinner showcasing carrots from The Chef’s Garden.
“I asked him what he was most excited about,” Chef Jessica said. “He gets to taste things all the time so, if he’s most passionate about carrots, then how could I go against him? And I love carrots. If you look at our current menu right now, we kind of have carrots everywhere. It was a perfect choice for me.”
The Bristol is a 120-seat restaurant overlooking Boston’s famed Public Garden, specializing in contemporary American cuisine.
“It’s a huge dining room,” Chef Jessica said. “I see food through very large numbers. We’re a restaurant that is open pretty much 24 hours a day. We do room service. We do volume.”
She said the opportunity to pull back and collaborate on a smaller scale six-course menu is a refreshing change of pace, as well as a learning opportunity. “I love to see new insights and new vantage points on things that I’ve looked at for years and years and years,” she said. “And it’s good for my team to switch it up.”
Learning from a chef who works day in and day out with the full range of Chef’s Garden’s offerings is another bonus.
“To see the craft that goes into it when you eat, breathe and live these vegetables every day inspires me that I can do better,” she added. “Even though I’m feeding more people and more often and all day long, I can do as much as I can to respect each individual vegetable as they come instead of being like, well, this is the vegetable, and push it out and we’re done.”
The collaboration is also a chance to try out brand new dishes using unconventional processes that aren’t always practical when juggling day to day demands. Like carrot pasta.
“We’re going to dehydrate carrots and make flour, and then make pasta dough out of it, then inlay the carrot tops into the pasta,” Chef Jessica said. She plans to sandwich micro tarragon and viola petals between layers of pasta along with the carrot fronds.
“It’s gonna be fun,” she said. “The pasta is super thin, so it cooks really fast. It comes out looking like stained glass.”
Trying to incorporate such a dish into The Bristol’s daily menu simply wouldn’t be practical, she said.
“For us, because of the sheer volume that we do, to even think about dehydrating vegetables to turn into flour … we can’t logistically do that in our job because, if somebody doesn’t tell you that they’re running out, that’s a two-day process.”
“As I’ve seen the menu unfold, it’s kind of challenged me,” Chef Jessica said. “We’ve been allowed to think a couple days out and say, how can we get the maximum flavor and do the most that we can with this particular vegetable? It just gave us a little more freedom than a day to day gritty restaurant does.”
As excited as she is to work with Chef Jamie, Chef Jessica is equally excited about working with Chef’s Garden fresh vegetables.
“All I can say is that we absolutely adore The Chef’s Garden,” she said. “It seems like everyone has so much passion and care for what they do. I’ve had chefs open a package of lettuce and cry over the level of respect and care for vegetables.”
Check out Chef Jessica when she visited the farm during tomato season.