Michelin Guide Digital Platform: Eric Ziebold’s Garden at RdV Vineyards Is His Ultimate Muse

From the Michelin Guide Digital Platform by Lani Furbank.

“In the summer, chef Eric Ziebold becomes a vegetarian. “I do that not for health reasons, not for ethical reasons. I do that as a reminder,” he says. “There’s no comparing a tree-ripened peach in July or August to a peach you’re going to buy at the grocery store in January. And so for me, it’s a reminder to eat that way.”

On top of running his MICHELIN-starred restaurants, Kinship and Métier in Washington, D.C., Ziebold also tends a quarter-acre garden at RdV Vineyards in Delaplane, Virginia. He features the bounty from L’Abeille Garden at his Summer Garden Dinners at Métier and the From the Garden menu that just launched at Kinship this summer and runs through mid-fall. These vegetarian offerings allow diners to eat seasonally, too, just like Ziebold.

Ziebold started the garden in 2015, while his restaurants were still in development. It was a natural collaboration because of Ziebold’s relationship with RdV vigneron Rutger de Vink. “Rutger and I have a lot of similarities in philosophy and value on things,” he says.

Ziebold saw the garden at the vineyard as a way to cultivate an environment that was conducive to “casual collision,” a term he borrowed from Silicon Valley that describes how ideas spark when people spend more time together in the workplace.

He also believes that a chef’s garden is the ultimate muse. “We had a garden that we worked with at The French Laundry and yes, it’s a way to get better products, fresher products. But, it’s also a way to stimulate creativity,” he says.

That’s because you can never predict exactly what the season’s harvest will bring. “Last year was a horrible growing season,” he says. “This year we’ve had a bumper crop.”

Ziebold’s prized peppers—the aromatic ají dulce variety—grew in excess. “All of a sudden we’re getting 20 pounds of ají dulce peppers. That’s more than I would ever order,” he says. “So we can throw them away, which is not very cost-effective, or you can figure out, ‘okay, what else can we do with it?’”

In the case of the peppers, Ziebold and his team have gotten inventive. Métier offers an ají dulce sweet tea as an aperitif. Kinship’s new menu features ají dulce chilaquiles, which are fried corn tortillas layered with ají dulce marmalade, salsa verde, Asiago fresca and a fried hen’s egg.

With armfuls of Tulsi basil, it’s the same story. It goes into a dish simply called “L’Abeille Garden Basil,” with three types of basil. Grilled Vidalia onions and sautéed summer squash are bathed in blue basil, Tulsi basil broth and Genovese basil pistou.

This aligns with the design of Kinship’s regular menu, which is organized by category: “craft” showcases a cooking technique, “history” revisits classics or iconic dishes, “indulgence” highlights specialty items, and “ingredients” celebrates a specific product.

“It is an impetus for creativity,” he says. “Here’s an ingredient. Here’s a product. How do you build a dish around it? That is one of our focuses. And by having the garden, you’re letting Mother Nature force your hand a little bit.””

Read the rest of the article HERE!

Featured photo courtesy of Love & Carrots.

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