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Chefs at Northwestern Memorial's Prentice Women's Hospital Take Fresh Food to a Whole New Level
September 2, 2010
Chicago - Rooftop garden yields 32 varieties of organic vegetables and herbs used in menu items
A garden of lettuce, dill, basil, multiple varieties of tomatoes and more resides 19 stories high above Chicago Avenue in a rather unlikely place – a hospital rooftop. While they’ve always been proud to serve food using the only the finest ingredients, chefs at Fresh Market at Fairbanks, located within Prentice, have taken the concept of fresh produce to a whole new level by establishing a rooftop garden that not only contributes to their recipes, but also provides environmental benefits.
“Rooftop gardens are emerging all over Chicago,” said Joseph Hernandez, executive chef and general manager of Fresh Market at Fairbanks. “It’s a great way to go green, and the gardens produce vegetables and herbs that simply taste better.”
Hernandez and fellow chefs Scott Thompson and Andrey Robinson grow each plant from seed and then transplant it to the roof once it has matured. Each plant then grows in bins with a southern exposure, carefully selected to ensure they are protected from the elements. The chefs volunteer approximately four hours of their personal time each week to tend the garden and use the fresh picked organic produce and herbs in dishes served to Fresh Market patrons.
“We feel it is our responsibility to provide nutritious menu options for patients, visitors and caregivers at Prentice as well as the community,” said Hernandez.
“It’s great to see them use their talents to benefit co-workers and visitors,” said Sonia Alexander, RD, director of Food and Nutrition at Northwestern Memorial. “We have several healthy eating initiatives around campus and the addition of organic produce at Fresh Market is a wonderful complement.”
Hernandez notes that while the small garden can’t produce enough food for all Fresh Market recipes, it’s a great start.
“We look forward to expanding the garden next year to include even more varieties of vegetables and fruits,” said Hernandez. “We learn daily how the garden responds to Chicago weather and which varieties of plants grow well. This is a labor of love and we are excited to watch it grow.”
2010 Meritage on the Magnificent Mile
Chefs Joseph Hernandez & Scott Thompson were a sparkling pair at the April 15th, 2010 Greater North Michigan Avenue Association’s Meritage on the Magnificent Mile event at the Hotel Palomar. Mistinguett Cava, a Spanish sparkling wine from the Vallformosa Winery from acclaimed winemaker Oriol Domenech was paired with a “Magnifico” ham & cheese tart. The Cava with notes of green apple and almond was paired with a Chorizo Custard Tart, with Dry Cured Chorizo, Manchego Cheese, Tangerine Oil, Tangerine Lace and Shaved Marcona Almond. Also served was a local vegetarian Trio of Beet Tartar with a Capriole Farms Goat Cheese Fondant; and a Quail Egg & Applewood Smoked Bacon Lyonnaise Salad.
On Thursday April 16th, the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association hosted their annual wine tasting event “Meritage on the Magnificent Mile” at the Fairmount Hotel.
Fresh Market at Fairbanks at Prentice Women’s Hospital was one of eleven participating restaurants and was awarded “Best Paring” over others such as Gibson’s Bar & Steak House, Le Colonial, Signature Room at the 95th, the Palm and even Kendall College that specializes in culinary arts.
Chef Joe Hernandez prepared a beautiful Fennel Tart with Carrot Caramel, Candied Fennel and Fennel Dust. It was the prefect balance of sweet and savory flavor to pare with the wine chosen by Scott Dahlin, General Manager / Sommelier. The wine was a Rosso Frizzante by Moletto. A beautiful rose sparkling Italian wine made from the Tocai Rosso grape that reflected perfectly the sweet savory nuances of the Fennel Tart.
The second paring was a recipe from Joyce Goldstein Prepared by Hernandez, Cucumber Disk with Melon, Crispy Prosciutto, Mint Vinaigrette and Watercress. Dahlin pared this dish with Moletto Prosecco. A bone dry sparkling wine made form 100% Prosecco grapes. Pale Straw color, fresh fruity flavor with a clean crisp finish pared it perfectly with the Goldstein dish.
Executive Chef Joe Hernandez (left) and Scott Dahlin, General Manager / Sommelier (right)