INTERVIEW WITH “FUTURE FOOD LEADERS”
Welcome to CVI Food Lab at Culinary Vegetable Institute
The concept of CVI Food Lab came together not too long ago inside the Culinary Vegetable Institute at the Chef’s Garden. It was dreamt up by the CVI’s team of Executive Chef Jamie Simpson and Chef de Cuisine Ülfet Özyabasligil, who have the unique privilege to live and work everyday on the farm and in the Institute, surrounded by birds, sun, and the sweet smell of flowers. Days go by fast around here! Everyday there are fresh ideas and new culinary experiences. Each morning brings another kind of work to be done and another chance to learn as we experiment, with the delicious products harvested from the Chef’s Garden. We share our conclusions with each other and with the rest of the culinary community as we decode the mysteries and the science behind the traditional and modern methods of culinary tradition. At night we say goodbye to our kitchen, to the moon and the stars, as the ideas swimming inside of our heads seem to whisper, “Tomorrow is waiting”!
–Ülfet Özyabasligil, 2015
The 11,000-square-foot facility built of locally quarried limestone, pine and cedar exterior with a wild cherry, black walnut, tulip poplar, oak and ash interior was designed from a basic concept of the Jones Family.
Sitting on approximately 100 acres, the Institute includes a 1,500 square foot state-of-the-art two story Kitchen designed byMark Stech-Novak with full audio-visual capabilities for demonstrations; a 1426 square foot Dining Room with 22 foot ceilings (capable of seating 90); an Executive Chef Suite with luxury amenities; accommodations for visiting chefs’ teams; a Culinary Library; Root Cellar and Wine Cellar; and experimental vegetable, forest and herb gardens.
Visiting chefs can utilize the CVI’s facilities and gardens for educational, team-building and retreat purposes. With the farm nearby, chefs can experience The Chef’s Garden planting and harvesting methods, pick vegetables themselves and return to the CVI for relaxation or to experiment in the kitchen.
We wanted to share the article recently published on Lake Erie Living 2015 Travel Guide. Take a few minute break and read it, get to know us better!! If you have any comments, questions, or just to say “hello” we would love to hear from you..
“The dream of being waited on by a personal chef can come true at the Culinary VegetableInstitute (CVI), a state-ofthe-art, chef-focused learning center in Milan, Ohio, that also offers an exclusive farm stay in its country lodge for overnight guests. Set overlooking a wooded riverfront on 100 acres of farmland, the private retreat, with king-size bed, Jacuzzi, stone fireplace and kitchen, was designed to house visiting chefs from all over the world who turn to the CVI for culinary inspiration. It’s a place where they can do R&D while they get some R&R. “This is the playground for the top dogs in the field,” says chef de cuisine Ülfet Özyabasligil Ralph. “They can pick whatever they want on the farm and create, cook and eat.” But when the guest suite isn’t occupied, it’s available to anyone looking for a one-ofa-kind, bed-and-breakfast experience down on the farm. The beautiful property is crisscrossed with hiking trails that are accompanied by a soundtrack of chirping songbirds and raptor sightings. The canoe propped up on the greenhouse can be taken out on the river for a scenic paddle or fishing excursion. Guests can wander through aromatic herb gardens and flowerbeds filled with flowers begging to be picked. In fact, a sign at the entrance reads: “please do pick the flowers.” Inside the lodge, you could spend hours curled up with a book in the comfy massage chairs. CVI’s extensive library is packed with cookbooks from celebrity chefs who found their way to this part of Ohio, which is otherwise most well-known as the birthplace of inventor Thomas Edison. While there’s plenty to keep a guest occupied, the focus is on the food, which is overseen by culinary geniuses Özyabasligil Ralph and executive chef Jamie Simpson, who will dream up dishes that are as visually stunning as they are delicious. While the meals are customized to the guest’s liking, the focus is always on sustainable products and homegrown specialty herbs, vegetables and edible flowers that the farm regularly ships to some of the finest restaurants around the globe. One thing is for sure: The morning meal won’t look like your typical farmhouse breakfast. During a recent stay, the chefs prepared a sinful take on eggs auberge served on the lodge’s wraparound porch. With eggs from the henhouse, Simpson poached the yolks, which he returned to the shell, followed by whipped egg whites folded with maple syrup and sherry. He topped the whole thing off with caviar and a fresh cutting of chives. Then came a plate of thinly sliced Surryano ham. “This ham came from Berkshire pigs in Surry County, Virginia, that are fed locally grown peanuts,” Simpson explains as he places it on the table. “Surry does two things well: pigs and peanuts. It’s a natural marriage.” More food arrives, including fresh baked croissants, a slab of oozing honeycomb from a neighboring farm next to a hunk of creamy, house-made camembert cheese garnished with edible marigolds.
Then Simpson pours a peach pit bellini, which has an intense flavor that comes from cracking open peach pits and macerating the internal nut in vodka until the infusion takes on an almond cherry flavor. The vodka is mixed with freshly pureed peaches and topped with champagne.There are plenty of reasons to raise the glass at this moment. A tour of the farm after breakfast helps solidify the connection between the food we consume and where it comes from. While the farm has a crew to care for the crops, Özyabasligil Ralph and Simpson have their own small plots in which to experiment with different plant varieties, such as Peruvian corn, quinoa and millet, which they use to make their own flour. Working the land may not have been in their job description, but the chefs believe the knowledge they’ve gained ultimately benefits the farm, not to mention the guests who will eventually eat the products grown here, whether it’s fresh bread made from homegrown millet flour or a shaved vegetable salad with herb dressing.
As the warmer weather begins to sneak into March, it also brings new life to the bee hives tucked away in the pine trees at the Culinary Vegetable Institute. The bees have been tended to all winter with warm syrup and fondant to eat, and the bees seem to have survived our long winter! The hives are buzzing and the bees are doing their early spring cleaning flights to keep the hives clear of disease and sickness.
How did the bees survive over the winter? It started in the fall, when the queens began to lay eggs of larger winter bees. These winter bees. These winter bees are responsible for keeping the queen warm during the coldest months. Summer bees may only live 4-6 weeks, but winter bees are bred to survive the entire season, sometimes for up to 6 months. The bees warm the queen by forming a “cluster” around her, a concentrated bundle of bees that flap their wings and shiver to raise their body temperature and turn, keep the queen warm (temperature can reach up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit!) at the core. To keep the entire hive alive, bringing the bees on the outside of the cluster inwards so that no bee succumbs to the cold.
Obviously all of this buzzing, flapping, shivering, and repositioning ames up precious energy, and the bees need to eat honey to survive. The worker bees in the late summer and fall left a surplus of honey for the winter bees to eat, and the CVI Food Lab helped put by feeding the bees warm syrup all winter long, which the bees processed into honey for food. This cooperation amongst the bees and their “keepers” helps to ensure that the bees stay healthy throughout the winter, and that the queen survives to start a new brood of pollinators come spring.
As the hives begin to come alive, the first point of action for the bees is food. While the queen takes to laying new eggs, the other bees are out foraging for nectar and pollen to feed the new brood. March can be the hardest time of the year for a hive, it’s a tightrope situation between laying eggs to establish a thriving colony and making sure there is enough food to keep the new colony fed and healthy enough to forage. !
The Chef’s Garden has devoted 80 acres of land to plants that provide bees with optimum nutrition. We have selected specific cover crops and scheduled plantings to ensure a constant blooming source throughout the warm seasons. The proper balance of nutrients ensures that every edible crop hand-harvested at The Chef’s Garden is full of flavor and high-quality nutrition. Providing a plentiful, diverse, and long-lasting source of food within easy reach of the hives offers the same benefit to the bees. And the effort is undoubtedly worth it for all of us!