In an effort to serve customers the freshest produce possible, Paul Davies, chef and co-owner of Merchants Guild in Melbourne has added an urban cultivator to the cafe’s kitchen.
Davies uses the self-contained indoor garden to grow herbs and vegetables including sunflower shoots, mustard seeds, pea tendrils, red radish, broccoli and more.
The ingredients are incorporated into a range of the cafe’s dishes, such as:
- The Superfood Breakfast, which includes avocado, kale, broccoli and mung bean sprouts.
- A Spicy Mississippi chicken creation, which is accompanied by Creole coleslaw.
- A short cut bacon dish, which is served with an avocado and charred corn salsa on sourdough with eggs and jalapeno pesto.
“Teaming with the developers of the Urban Cultivator system, we were able to source a system that allows us to grow many of the ingredients used within our dishes served, right here” explained Davies.
“What this allows us to do is give people the best possible food experience where they feel like they are rejuvenated from their encounter here.”
Davies believes new technologies such as the urban cultivator enable commercial food venues to include ingredients on the menu that hold similar qualities to freshly picked produce.
“What we are trying to do here locally at Merchants Guild is break down some of the barriers that stop our chefs from being able to have the types of ingredients that they ideally want for their creations, that ultimately end up on our customers plates.”
Considering an urban cultivator for your venue? Paul believes the following benefits contribute to high quality menus:
- Produce is free from pesticides
- Eliminates/reduces travel time
- Reduces food waste in the kitchen
“We always want fresh and we always want the best for our locals, and there is a beautiful spicy flavour in plants when they are just shooting from the soil so introducing this system has been a really good step in ensuring that always happens here on the tables of Merchants Guild,” he said.
According to the urban cultivator website, other benefits include:
- The ability to cut herb and micro-green costs by up to 90 percent
- It is designed to accept the flats of herbs business owners receive from their supplier, so they continue to grow, rather than spoil, until they are requried for a dish
- It can be connected to the water supply, eliminating the need to water or light plants
- It can be used to grow hard to find greens