Arizona on a Plate: Chef Dustin Christofolo Prepares Soil & Seed Foraged Garden Salad
As photographer Debby Wolvos has traveled the state, she has had the privilege of meeting and getting to know the people behind our local food community—be they farmers, ranchers, bakers, artisan food producers or chefs. This photo series explores the relationships, inspirations and ingredients from these producers.
The sixth entry in this two-year photojournalism series features Executive Chef Dustin Christofolo and grower Billy Anthony from the Farm at South Mountain. The Farm at South Mountain is truly a one-of-a-kind oasis in Phoenix. Quiessence Restaurant, Morning Glory Café, The Farm Kitchen and Botanica are nestled on the 12-acre estate, which was once a fruitful pecan farm. Chef Christofolo develops the menu for Quiessence, which changes seasonally to feature the freshest local Arizona foods, including some that are grown on-site by Anthony in the Soil & Seed Garden at The Farm.
“Our goal is to involve the community in how we’re growing this fresh and seasonal food, from our weekly grower’s market to our CSA program,” Anthony says. “We want the community to not only experience these natural ingredients at our restaurants, but also in their own homes.”
Chef’s featured dish is the Soil & Seed Foraged Garden Salad, using an amazing array of fresh greens from the garden. I met up with the chef/grower duo there on a gorgeous afternoon.
DEBBY WOLVOS: Executive Chef Dustin Christofolo determines which produce, herbs andflowers are planted at Soil & Seed Garden each season, and grower Billy Anthony oversees the lush garden plots. Chef, it’s got to be great to forage and bring the bounty straight from the Soil & Seed Garden to your guests.
CHEF DUSTIN CHRISTOFOLO: Constantly finding creative ways to use our harvests in new menu items and garden cocktails is something that our team looks forward to. It’s a “slow foods” experience when your grower is walking 50 yards to drop off the vegetables to your kitchen for that evening’s dinner service.
DW: The website describes your food as contemporary American farm cuisine with a conscience. Tell us more.
DC: It’s about cooking with passion and heart. Long prep lists and late hours are always testing our commitment to the kitchen. We use the best ingredients available from the property and from many farmers like Dave Jordan from Two Wash Ranch to keep the kitchen excited and focused.
DW: What is the inspiration behind your featured dish—the “Soil & Seed Foraged Garden Salad”?
DC: To keep it simple and show off the quality and unique variety of greens. I used shungiku, orach, minutina, and the list goes on, totaling around eight to 10 different greens.
Billy is really good at tracking me down and keeping me up to date with what’s available today and what might be available next week. It’s great info when I’m assigning my prep list in the morning. It can also change the direction of a dish on the spot. Our day-to-day interactions are always entertaining!
Our pop-up event for this article will be a multicourse course dinner featuring produce from Soil & Seed Garden and this incredible Foraged Garden Salad at Quiessence at The Farm at South Mountain on April 11. For tickets, see soilandseedgardenatthefarm.eventbrite.com. For info on future events follow Edible Phoenix on Facebook , or sign up for our e-newsletter. For more information on The Farm at South Mountain, see thefarmatsouthmountain.com.
Debby Wolvos has had a lifelong love affair with the world of food, chefs and photography. Her passion is photographing
food culture, and traveling globally to explore and document authentic cuisines.