An Insiders Look at Hidden Patios and Chefs’ Private Plots
By Corinne Humphrey
Celebrate the beauty of al fresco dining and delight in the deliciousness of local bounty this summer. Enjoy the fruits of foraging or fresh-picked produce from chefs’ private gardens.
La Caille restaurant, well known by locals and visitors for its stunning grounds, vineyards and French country ambiance, has repeatedly won awards by Gayot and other guides for cuisine and “Best Outdoor Dining.” In addition to the onsite greenhouse for citrus trees and pre-season plantings, Chef Billy Sotelo also claimed half an acre for a vegetable herb garden. “It’s been a great addition,” says Sotelo. “Last year was a learning experience to regulate the timing and quantity of vegetables, and bird netting was added to keep the peacocks, birds and bunnies from helping themselves to a smorgasbord. We want to be sustainable and a good community partner, so everything is organic, and most kitchen scraps are composted and added to the garden.” In addition to micro-greens and herbs for garnishes and salads, Chef Sotelo has three plantings of lettuces and spinach. His vegetable crop includes a variety of eggplant, tomatoes, sunchokes, artichokes, zucchini, pumpkin, beets, carrots, onions and different garlics. Guests can also enjoy a glass of La Caille’s own 2014 vintage of Seyval Blanc from grapes grown on the property.
If you’re seeking relief from summer heat, head to Tuscany’s cool secluded patios where you’ll be shaded by tall pine trees and trailing grapevines in this romantic Italianate courtyard. Voted “Best Urban Patio” by City Weekly and winner of 2010 “Best of State” awards by Salt Lake City Magazine for best chef and best Italian food, it was also recognized as a top Italian restaurant in the U.S. by Zagat guides. Chef Adam Vickers, winner of the 2009 Chef Dance competition, serves up Pancetta Pesto Crusted Salmon, housemade pastas, and other classic Italian dishes at this intimate outdoor retreat from mid-May through early October.
Log Haven’s Chef Dave Jones started supplementing ingredients for the restaurant by sharing the harvest from his home garden. “Gardening is a personal hobby, and I incorporated some of my heirloom tomatoes and other vegetables for use in the Log Haven kitchen.” Jones also began foraging for native plants like Stinging Nettle, Oregon Grape, huckleberries and elderberries in Mill Creek Canyon. It’s a lot of work to gather and process the berries with small yields, so Jones has been working with Grow Wild nursery to build an experimental garden behind the restaurant.
“The excitement is cultivating these native plants in a garden,” says Jones. “It’s more efficient for a higher yield.” Higher yield is important when you consider that a gallon of berries produces only one quart of juice for use in sauces, cocktails or sorbets. Look for Jones’ garden-grown Oregon Grape, Watercress, Miner’s Leaf Lettuce and Stinging Nettle on Log Haven’s menu.
This summer, beat the heat and enjoy the best in outdoor dining and garden fresh goodness.