The Daily Meal’s video producer, Ali Rosen, was lucky enough to get a tour of the French Laundry’s outstanding gardens and catch up with the restaurant’s culinary gardener, Tucker Taylor, to talk about the crops they harvest and how they choose what to grow.
At the beginning of each season, Taylor passes around the seed catalog with the chefs at the French Laundry and they talk about what they’re going to grow for the restaurant. From year to year Taylor explains that they tend to grow similar crops, but they’re constantly aiming to harvest new crops from around the globe.
Taylor is known for identifying plants that are unfamiliar to most Americans (for instance, crops from Scotland and the Andes) and figuring out how to grow them here. He explains that over the last few years, they’ve grown ficoide glaciale, a sweet and salty a coastal plant that uptakes salt from the soil and that’s leaves are covered in small bubbles that make them look like they are dripping in diamonds. Taylor says that recently, chef Keller texted him a photo of Oyster Leaf while he was on a trip in Lyon, France, so Taylor found a seed source in France, planted them, and now the crops are growing strongly in their garden.
The French Laundry is known not only for featuring locally grown produce that’s rarely found elsewhere in the U.S., but also for featuring vegetables that are exceptionally fresh and full-flavored. Taylor says that the quality of the crops has to do with the soil and the fact that they pick the vegetables every morning for service that afternoon.