The bounty and beauty of Michigan’s agricultural industry is vast, with farmers across the state growing high-quality, diverse, and dynamic products like blueberries, asparagus, cherries, squash, corn, soybeans, apples, and more. Our team is proud to offer fresh fare from local farmers throughout West Michigan… and our own rooftop garden. Luke, our Executive Chef, shares more about Reserve’s rooftop garden below:
“Reserve has been a place where my love of nature and my love of food get to cohabitate. Going to markets and working with farmers, my connection within this community has grown tremendously. I have been able to walk many fields and converse with many farmers while munching on the nearest plant they’ve plucked. Eating food in the place it was grown really changed things for me. The smells, the sounds, the textures. It was a full sensory experience and I was hooked.
Chasing that serotonin dragon while working with the same produce year in and year out, I began to wonder how you can get more out of a particular ingredient. Can you eat a different part, can you eat it at a different stage of its life, cook it with other things? These questions led to a desire to get closer to our food and the next step was a natural one. Let’s put a garden on the roof.
Our restaurant sits at the street level of the eight story Windquest building with several offices above us. There is a fairly large HVAC platform to service those offices, and we thought we could integrate some green space amongst the generators, evaporators and condensers. That hot, humid, full sun space ended up being a perfect spot for our plot. We’ve grown peppers, tomatoes, beans, as well as many different herbs and flowers.
It is very convenient as a chef to be able to step out and cut garnishes for dishes just a few floors up from the kitchen. We’ve been able to eat different plants at different stages in their life cycle, and have been able to experience them in ways that are not typically available at the market.
The space is limited however, and the itch still needs scratching. Since starting this endeavor (as well as the onset of a global pandemic) myself and some of my coworkers have been inspired to start home gardens. My Sous Chef Claire, owns and operates her tiny farm in the Baxter neighborhood. My long time Prep Cook Jeff moved here from Hawaii where his family operated an off grid self sustainable farm, and I have planted much of my yard up in Kent City.
We have focused on growing varieties that we can’t find at markets. Things that are heirloom and focused on flavor instead of yield. Things that are too tedious to grow at scale for a full size farm. There is a lot of blood, sweat & tears that goes into growing food. It has given me so much more appreciation for what our farmers do. As well as so much more reverence for what Mother Nature is able to provide.”
Ready to taste a true expression of time and place? And to eat dishes using ingredients from our rooftop garden that were nurtured by the hands cooking it? View Reserve’s menu here and then make a reservation. Join our mailing list to stay up to date with the latest from Reserve Wine & Food. You can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date.