Gardens are a reflection of the passion and interests of their owners – bursting with emotional connections that stimulate guests and help tune them into the person behind the garden. Chef Rick Bayless, the host of the highly-rated Public Television Series Mexico–One Plate at a Time, has a home garden in Chicago which he uses for his own use and for his restaurant production. From the moment you step through the gate, the organic garden is exploding with life and feels as warm and complex as Rick Bayless himself. Beyond the amazing vegetative bounty, there are also chickens (below), lots of butterflies, and honey bees (bottom).
Rick is, indeed, full of life. When you meet Rick you are struck with the fact that he reflects the image of healthy that he evangelizes; that eating wholesome food and staying active can be a panacea for a stressfully busy life. While Rick spends the majority of his time running his restaurant empire and working on television, he works closely with the team that plants and manages his gardens which produce over $30,000 of produce annually for his restaurants. While I was there he was directing his staff on the harvest of the grapes which are growing over a shady veranda across from the micro-green production garden (below).
Growing Garlic Chives
One of the plants in the garden flowering wildly on my visit was Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum), also known as the Chinese leek. Rick stopped and talked extensively about the herb. The plant is perennial in zones 3 through 10, is wholly edible, and functions well as a companion plant since it attracts many differing pollinators (above). Plant in rich, well-drained soil for best results. It is an aggressive self-sower, so cut the flowers to prevent seed production. The flowers make excellent ever-lasting arrangements.
Rick’s recommendation is to cook the garlic chive. Saute it with eggs, make it into a garlicky pesto, cook it with pork, or use it as a flavor enhancer in soups.
Television Show Season 11 Premiere
Be sure to watch Rick’s The Season 11 premiere of his PBS television series, Mexico–One Plate at a Time this Friday night on September 16, 2016. He visits the remote village of Punta Allen, which is located in the Sian Ka’an nature reserve, where Rick and chef Juan Pablo Loza join members of a sustainable lobster fishing cooperative on an oceanic outing. Also: a feast of grilled lobster zarandeado with adobo mayo and sweet corn puree is prepared in the gardens of the Rosewood Mayakoba resort; and Rick makes greens with grilled honey-lime dressing and a sweet-and-spicy, chipotle-honey glazed shrimp dish in his kitchen.
Special thanks to Rick Bayless and his amazing team for allowing me to meet and visit my Mexican cuisine hero. I will be giving you more tips and ideas from Rick and his garden throughout the upcoming season.