Filed Under: Celebrities

The Secret Garden

This morning’s Detroit Free Press heaps praise on Ohio’s Chef’s Garden farm, frequented by America’s leading celebrity chefs. But there’s more to the story than what’s sprouted through the surface.

The farm uses food technology to grow over 600 kinds of “vegetables, herbs and other high-end edibles,” the Free Press reports. The farm plans to add new varieties this year, including some that have not stored well in the past, or that are most popular in other countries. “R&D is critical to their future,” writes the paper.

Among the farm’s customers: Charlie Trotter, a chef and ardent organic activist, as well as many leading lights of Chefs Collaborative, an activist group made up of famous cooks that promotes only organic, locally grown, in-season cuisine — and declares all other foods off the menu.

So by using Chef’s Garden, Chefs Collaborative cooks are admitting that they do not abide by their own political agenda. In August 2000, The New York Times reported on Chef’s Garden (“Where the Fieldworkers Wear Lab Coats”) as chefs’ “laboratory, their research and development center,” where every sprout is grown with “scientific precision” — such that farmers can request “20 pounds of one-inch round turnips,” “varieties of lettuce from Hungary,” and “harvesting year round.”

As our profile of Chefs Collaborative makes clear, the politically correct entrees the celebrity chefs promote “don’t come cheap, and this seems to be just fine with the Chefs Collaborative. Dinner for two at a restaurant run by Charlie Trotter or Rick Bayless will set you back $200 or more. Eating at Chez Panisse (Alice Waters’ Berkeley, CA hangout) costs over $150 per person for starters. This is the typical cost of eating ‘locally, sustainably, seasonally, and without pesticides or herbicides.'”

The chefs’ collaboration with Chef’s Garden proves it: They’ll dish it out, but they won’t take it themselves.

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