jason wilson 1.jpg
Photo by Leslie Kelly
Jason Wilson in the garden with his son, Ferrin.
Successful chefs are insanely busy, that's a given. But this summer, Jason

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Getting Down And Dirty With Jason Wilson

jason wilson 1.jpg
Photo by Leslie Kelly
Jason Wilson in the garden with his son, Ferrin.
Successful chefs are insanely busy, that's a given. But this summer, Jason Wilson of Crush added to his already crowded platter of projects when a customer approached him, asking whether he wanted to plant a vegetable garden where her father had grown produce for decades. Jason dug in and his customers tasted the fruits and veggies of his labor. It's been a steep learning curve, but he's so crazy about the unusual goodies he was able to grow -- give it up for saltwort! -- he's planning a winter garden and marinating on his future composting plans.

SW: Before we get our hands dirty in your garden, tell us how your life has changed since winning the James Beard award in May?

Jason: There have been new opportunities presented for development, collaboration and new projects. Most importantly though is the pride my staff and family feel for such a great accomplishment and honor. I'm humbled by the recognition. It truly was a dream come true.

SW: Did you drink champagne or shots that night? Or both?

Jason: A little champagne, then Mersault. No shots.

SW: Everybody seems to be riding the eat local wave, but there seem to be only a few chefs growing their own. What inspired you to plant this year?

Jason: We've been using eggs from my mother in laws farm on Vashon and summertime produce for years now but taking the step to grow ourselves was really about the Hayashi Family and the tradition their father had started 30+ years ago gardening year-round at his house in North Capitol Hill. We decided to "dig in" and hopefully continue a tradition at the house while reaping the rewards of garden fresh vegetables and herbs severn blocks from Crush.

SW: What did you grow? What worked best? What crops were disappointing?

We grew Saltwort, five varieties of basil, Italian Zucchini/squash, three different radishes, leeks, onions, six different lettuces, arugula, mizuna, lemon cucumbers, gold beets, chioggia beets and potatoes. The possibilities are nearly endless and I'm looking forward to growing some really unique vegetables and herbs as we continue to cultivate the garden for the Tasting Menu. Tomatoes were attempted but not so successfully, everything else was fantastic.

SW: How did diners react to the chef's menu featuring produce growing around the block? Was it a big hit?

Jason: It was a great talking point for myself, our service staff and the guests. It was really fun to introduce new flavors and I believe much fun too for guests to see whole radishes that had been picked an hour earlier.

Check back for part two of this week's Grillaxin Q & A when chef Jason talks about his squash.

 
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