Chef’s Rooftop Dream Garden (Riverpark Farm at the Alexandria Center for Life Sciences, 430 E. 29th Street between 1st Avenue and the East River)

Celebrity chefs are indeed the new rock stars, and Riverpark’s portable rooftop farm confirms this notion.  Chef asks for baby carrots that are 1.25 inches long and Zach grows them, not one bit bigger.  Chef wants a specific edible flower to garnish a seasonal dish and Zach produces the flavorful blossoms.  When Chef dreams it up, Zach produces it, and right outside Chef’s gourmet Manhattan kitchen.

Chef used to travel down to Union Square Greenmarket early on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.  Now Chef plans the seasonal menu weeks in advance and meets with Zach Pickens, steward of the Riverpark Farm.  LOOK UP! to find this elevated garden, the latest incarnation in the urban farming evolution.  An astounding and attractive 3,500 one square foot milk cartons are planted on a 15,000 square foot concrete pad where Building Two of the Alexandria Center for Life Sciences Building will soon stand.

Riverpark Farm is planted entirely in milk crates

The farm on the future site of Building Two exists because Building One is complete.  It is home to Tom Colicchio’s latest five-star dining establishment, Riverpark.  When construction on the second building was stalled, Colicchio and Chef/Partner Sisha Ortuzar saw the opportunity to plant their own Chef’s Garden right outside their kitchen.  The concept is Farm to Table with the Farm and the Table just feet apart.  In fact, there is a picnic table in the midst of Riverpark Farm where you can arrange a meal for 12 served “family style,” but make sure you have deep pockets for that.  It’s well over $100 per person for a seat at that particular Manhattan picnic table.

Edible flowers growing on the farm

My shallower pockets suggested that I sit a few feet further away from the farm and have the $28 prix fixe lunch on the restaurant terrace after my farm tour.  As expected, the food was exploding with freshness and flavor, and was prepared and served expertly.

Each Tuesday between April and October, Zach guides tours of his farm. Space is limited to a few people per tour and no reservations are taken so get there before everyone catches on to this inspiring freebie.  Zach also offers a series of free Saturday urban gardening

Fresh fava bean salad with edible flowers from the roof farm

seminars.  Reservations are taken for the Saturday seminars so check the schedule and sign up early, and you can learn how to keep your budding family chef/rock star supplied with the freshest ingredients possible – even if you don’t happen to have a 15,000 square foot elevated garden in which to farm.


One thought on “Chef’s Rooftop Dream Garden (Riverpark Farm at the Alexandria Center for Life Sciences, 430 E. 29th Street between 1st Avenue and the East River)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s