When dining at Shooting Star this summer, I noticed how fresh the salad was and was intrigued by the microgreen topping on it. Upon investigation, I was told that the chef grows most of the fresh ingredients he uses at the restaurant in the summer months.
Knowing how busy he must be anyway, I was curious how he makes the time to do this and what he grows in the garden (now located at his home until a permanent location is developed at Shooting Star). Here is what Jeff Weskamp had to say about his gardening endeavor.
Your garden is amazing. How did you decide to take on this endeavor?
I wanted to bring a concept to Jackson that was different and forgotten from the past, something that would set my cuisine apart from anybody in Jackson. While a couple of restaurants in Jackson have an herb garden, I don’t think they are 100 percent organic like the one myself and Enhance Designscapes constructed. I aim to showcase these products in classic and contemporary ways to set us apart.
You have a lot of more unusual vegetables and herbs (eight varieties of radishes, for example). How did you decide what you wanted to grow?
We decide on products that nobody has or uses, and some familiar things such as arugula. We do different types of some similar ingredients so it is comforting to the guests but unique, like Sylvetta arugula instead of just rocket.
It would be hard to decide what my favorite ingredient is because all of the products get so much attention from myself, all the way down to the prep cooks with different ideas. We have a wide range of talent with a lot of ideas that make every product diverse. Every item that is harvested, it always blows me away. A lot of the time, people have seen much of the product, but not like that, which brings a lot of pride to the cooks who prepare the meals.
Has there been an enormous amount of appreciation from Shooting Star members who get to eat from the garden?
The response to the garden has been outstanding and a definite confidence booster for everybody at the club. A lot of our members travel through Europe and have dined in some culinary meccas. They can appreciate what my vision is. I do have to thank John and Kitty Resor for embracing my vision and seeing the garden through.
What is your favorite dish you have made this summer from the garden?
My favorite dish is a tough one. I have lots. There is not one that is not my favorite. I would not send anything out that isn’t my favorite for that night!
Any hopes/future plans to expand the garden?
We hope to expand the garden to an on-site project. We would like to involve members in the process of everything, from seeding to a cooking class for all ages, so that everyone can enjoy what Shooting Star does.