Mother Nature created the perfect symbiotic system with bees needing flowers and flowers needing bees—and this always reminds Farmer Lee that, although The Chef’s Garden knows how to grow these elegant beauties, it takes the ingenuity of our cherished chefs to brilliantly spotlight them for diners.
We’ve created a deep dive post on the benefits of using edible flowers in dishes and, here, we’ll share gorgeous results that occur when chefs use our edible flowers.
Executive Chef Eric Upper: Alexander’s Steakhouse
Eric Upper has worked with all cuisines and techniques, using his exceptional culinary skills and knowledge. “Every bite,” he tells us, “should be complete and, although edible flowers are beautiful, I don’t just use them for visual appeal. They’re also a flavor enhancer. Then, because diners don’t always know that edible flowers are more than garnish, I explain reasons for the usage beyond aesthetics.”
Here are three of his dishes that perfectly incorporate edible flowers.
Wagyu Tartare with Jimmy Nardello Sott'Olio, Aleppo Oil, Egg Yolk, and Borage Petals
Chef Eric chose borage for its crisp cucumber flavor as well as accents of honey that play well with the richness of wagyu.
This is grilled over binchotan to give it a lovely smokiness. Placed on a bed of squash puree with dots of apple puree, it’s covered in a broken wagyu bacon vinaigrette and then garnished with citrus begonia to brighten up the dish, the blooms tying all together and making the dish pop.
Sauteed squash, chestnut, and celeriac are paired with a brussels leaf slaw, pickled apple, and apple blossom, all surrounded by the apple velouté topped with Aleppo. The apple blossom adds an accent of honeysuckle and slight sweetness to this extremely savory dish.
Executive Pastry Chef Yoonjung Oh: Jungsik
Chef Yoonjung was named as Jungsik’s executive pastry chef in 2021. This contemporary Korean restaurant is known for delightful use of whimsy.
Chef Yoonjung loves the spring vibe that edible blooms provide—and she has a second seasonal reminder: rhubarb. “Actually, rhubarb was the first thing that came to mind when I was planning our spring menu,” she says. “I wanted to tell people, ‘This is SPRING!’”
The color of rhubarb also feels springlike to Chef Yoonjung—an announcement of the warm weather to come. “I used rhubarb for our pre-dessert, a palate cleanser to start our dessert courses, and I appreciate its balance of freshness, sourness, and sweetness. I try to emphasize rhubarb flavor without putting in obstacles, flavor-wise.”
Olive oil sorbet with rhubarb, she notes, balances very well, and makes the pre-dessert very attractive. She expects diners to love this dish with mini florets because of its lovely flavor, color, and texture. “I hope,” she says, “that Jungsik diners will feel the concept of spring while they enjoy this dish.”
Rhubarb with Mini Florets
Rhubarb is presented in three different applications: a compote, small pieces, and after compression. This dish will include the olive oil sorbet, and mini florets—with Chef Yoonjung plating in two different ways.
Executive Chef Billy Bothell: Le Meridien Oakbrook
Even as a young chef, William “Billy” Bothell had a fascination with products that were both beautiful and edible. “They’ve always excited me,” he says, “and it’s so cool how they can elevate a dish. So, once I had the ability to order ingredients, I’d try different ones: black radishes, whole honeycomb, rhubarb, edible flowers. I would pay attention to how each ingredient could cause the dish to taste a bit different.”
So, when he envisions a new dish, he considers what will elevate both the flavor and visual appeal. How will, for example, coriander citrus work in a raw fish dish? Banana cream viola in a polenta and leek dish? Citrus marigold and crab?
As the executive chef at Le Meridien Oakbrook, Chef Billy strategically uses edible flowers on a variety of dishes, including these:
Dish 1: Features pimientos, blistered shishito peppers, flaky salt, and fennel pollen aioli
Dish 2: Features cangrejo, crab salad, onion chip, avocado, and calamansi
Dish 3: Features polenta, pickled mushroom, braised leek, whipped goat cheese, and paprika sauce
Dish 4: Features panna cotta, bourbon peach jam, candied hazelnuts, and compressed peaches
Farmer Lee Jones and the entire farm team thanks Chef Eric, Chef Yoonjung, and Chef Billy for generously sharing their thoughts about and images of using edible flowers in unique dishes.
We appreciate your time and love your creativity!