Chef and Farmer: Benefits of Farm-Fresh Kale Varieties
We write about plenty of topics on our farm’s blog, from food trends to regenerative farming techniques and other philosophies we believe in and advocate for—and overviews of specific crops, the health benefits of them, and so much more.
At the very heart of everything we share, though, is the chef and farmer relationship.
In fact, everything we do—from the research we conduct to the cover crops we grow and the information we provide—is ultimately done to provide our chefs with the highest quality of flavorful products that they need for their creative dishes and menus.
This means that chef feedback is invaluable to us—and so we’re grateful how two of them have shared their insights about our kale products: Disney Chef Sahib Bhatti, who talked about why he is using our loose kale in a dish he’s creating, and The Mar-A-Logo Club Chef Bogdan Boerean who offered feedback about using our meskale in his menus.
Chef Feedback About Flavor
Chef Bogdan appreciates the sweetness of our meskale, and how well it pairs with so many dishes, specifically those with burrata, chicken, and beef. Meanwhile, the flavor of loose kale from The Chef’s Garden, Chef Sahib told us, is “great,” not too bitter.
We really appreciate hearing how important the flavor of our kale products is to these chefs. This reinforces what we’ve learned from numerous chefs over the years—that we can never focus enough on flavor. In fact, sometimes we say that the top three things chefs want are:
Even More flavor
Traditionally, of course, varieties of kale have not been associated with diner pleasure—but that’s because of how it was grown, not how it was used by the chefs. In the past, farmers would harvest kale when it had reached full maturity and that’s how kale became associated with an unpleasantly bitter flavor.
Chef Feedback About Texture
Farmer Lee remembers harvesting kale at full maturity as a child. He also remembers the end result being “tough and leathery” and admits that he “never developed a fondness for it during childhood. Kale was something to be endured, not something to be celebrated.”
We do kale differently, though, hand harvesting center leaves for our chefs at just the right time for the ideal texture. Chef Sahib chooses our loose kale because the leaves are hearty, without being too fibrous, while Chef Bogdan appreciates the crunchiness of our meskale.
Chef Feedback About Visual Appeal
People eat with their eyes first, and Chef Bogdan likes how each leaf of our meskale isn’t identically shaped.
That would be like every brushstroke in a painting being exactly the same. And, although chefs sometimes have a need for leaves that are similarly sized, differently shaped ones can add visual appeal.
And, as Farmer Lee likes to say to chefs, you’ve got the vision. We provide the paint.
Chef Feedback About Consistency
In the dish he’s developing, Chef Sahib appreciates the consistency of our loose kale.
Again, we appreciate the feedback—and, in this case, it makes us realize something important. We definitely put a strong focus on product consistency—in flavor, quality, size, visual appearance and more—but we don’t really talk about this aspect of what we do.
At the core of this consistency is our extreme focus on soil health. (And, no. Our use of “extreme” is not overstated. This may, in fact, be an understatement). Intricately connected to this is the research and development work we do, where we conduct routine soil sampling to ensure the proper balance of nutrients for healthy and consistent plant growth. We also conduct antioxidant and nutritional testing of our plants.
And, then there’s flavor.
Yes, all roads at our farm lead back to flavor. To monitor how delicious a crop will be, we take consistent brix (sugar content) readings. If you’re a visual person, it may help to imagine a big circle with the word FLAVOR written clearly in the center, with a variety of roads—ones named Soil Health Street, Cover Crops Avenue, Regenerative Farming Blvd., Research and Development Drive, Soil Sampling Street, Brix Readings Road, Nutritional Value Blvd., Visual Appeal Avenue, and much more leading into this circle.
All roads at our farm lead back to flavor.
And, here’s one more thing to consider. When a product—in this case, kale—is hand harvested upon chefs’ orders, we send them our very best. That’s a key part of our promise to chefs.
More About Our Chef and Farmer Relationship
For more than 30 years, we have devoted ourselves to working in concert with extraordinary chefs from around the world, like Chef Bogdan and Chef Sahib. We collaborate with them, having plenty of conversations about what they need in order to continue to create the amazing menus they do.
As part of our chef and farmer relationship, we research and develop new product varieties, fulfilling chef requests for new and innovative products. We also collaborate with chefs to find out how vegetables and other crops we’re already growing can be used in new and different ways. One chef, for example, taught us the value of vegetable blooms in a unique fashion.
Our farming research and development—as well as our food safety programs—ensure that our quality, freshness, taste, and service to our chefs is never compromised.
We’re fueled by the knowledge provided to us by our chefs, and the work it inspires has resulted in a narrative intrinsic to the quality of the products we grow and the regenerative agricultural practices we implement. Here’s more about our chef and farmer philosophy.
If you’re a professional chef interested in becoming a customer of The Chef’s Garden, please contact us online today!