Today was my first day to shadow in the Rome Sustainable Food Project. I was met by Chef Chris Behr and Kitchen Manager Laura Offeddu in the garden behind the kitchens at the American Academy. There I witnessed the last of the spring plantings, with tomatoes sewn into the beds. They had an amazing tool that digs the hole and plants the seedling. Not sure I can get one of those into my suitcase when I go home!
|Caspar (l) and Andrea (r)|
The garden is small, and due to the sheer number of meals served here, the garden provides only some of the variety of fruits and vegetables that are served. Each week Chef Chris will highlight one crop from the garden in the menu. Realizing that some plants replenish themselves more rapidly than others, if fennel is harvested it will take 2 to 3 months for fennel to regrow in the garden. Chard, lettuces, and other greens seem to reproduce in 2 to 3 weeks. It is an on-going challenge that the Chef and his staff deal with on a daily basis.
Throughout the larger part of the garden are herbs, fruit trees, artichokes, and olive trees.
Composting done on a hill above the garden, turned and tended each day and when ready turned into the garden.
When I asked about pests, I was told that the Monk Parakeets are a real problem, especially when the stone fruits and figs are ripe. The real fight will begin when the apricots, which are green on the trees now become mature.
Fruits and vegetables delivered from growers during the week are organic, sustainable, seasonal and pesticide free. Some fruits, citrus in particular, are sourced year round, such as lemons and oranges.
|This is an absolutely beautiful kitchen|
|This little piggy will be dinner tonight: Porchetta|
|Ready for the oven: Savoy cabbage and potatoes with thyme and olive oil|
After my tour of the gardens, and the grounds outside the kitchen I was able to go into the kitchen to meet the staff. Since this is a busy place, I will have access when it’s not so busy, and was invited to sit down at the staff lunch to chat with each of the members of the staff. That’s a post for another day. This was lunch today for the community.
|Setting up for lunch which is always buffet style|
|When the door is opened, then the members know it's time to eat|
Thank you Chef Chris and your staff for my backstage pass, there will be more to come. Ciao for now.