The culinary wunderkind was cooking up a strong reputation for himself at the Charleston Grill when he noticed a trend. The company he worked for sent him to hotel restaurants with a common ingredient: Chef’s Garden produce. At 26, he started working at that Huron, Ohio, farm as liaison executive chef at the nearby Culinary Vegetable Institute cooking for visiting chefs, events and leading experiences that educate visitors on where their food comes from.
Plant Life: Simpson has become fascinated by the minute details of the farm, even observing the life cycle of crops. “Carrots make a beautiful flower that was actually used by humans thousands of years ago,” he says. He’s taken discoveries from the garden such as pea blooms and tendrils and used them in a very light peas and carrots salad-style dish.
Eat Your Vegetables: The institute flips the meat and potato norm and serves 80 percent veggies and 20 percent meat. “We take the potato and just blow it up into so many different textures of what it could be — fried, puffed, dried, pureed, boiled, pickled, freeze-dried,” he says.
Harvest Feast: At home, Simpson craves a basic walk through the garden. “I love to put on some boots, walk with a knife and harvest my way through it.” He sears, grills or juices his bounty of beets, turnips or leeks, then adds rice and chicken. “I cook really simple,” he says.