Chef Leo's Final Desde el Jardin

Swan Song- The last Desde el Jardin

There were hits and there were misses. Desde el Jardin started as a simple thing really.

I wanted to cook, and I wanted to strengthen the relationship between Central and EAT South. I so enjoyed Farmer Jet coming in with baskets of fresh produce, all freshly harvested, and I remember just grabbing a legal pad and writing everything he brought down. This wasn’t something I just started doing, it’s my natural approach to food. I write it all down and then I start to let the juices flow...

Music plays a HUGE part of what I do.

I came up in some crazy serious “no music” kitchens, and also in some “Chef is listening to Metallica’s Ride the Lightning full blast because he’s prepping” kitchens…. I’m a mood listener... Somewhere in between writing down the produce list, I decided to write down the music I was going to listen to. I have sooo much respect for musicians (I always secretly wished I could play an instrument), and I was always a fan of a “set list”, how they pick and choose from their libraries and decide what they will play for their fans. I really couldn’t tell you how it evolved into what it did, it was truly organic….

So there it was, a “set list” of ingredients, my jams for the day, and so naturally- why not share in the whole thought process.

This is when Desde el Jardin launched!

I wanted to take my diners on a small trip through the mind of a chef and the process of creating. Desde el Jardin means “From the Garden”, and soon at the incessant request and never ending text harassment, the “El Mar” was added, which means “and the Sea” cause David at Destin Connection wanted his “props”, and he deserved them as well.

Pretty soon thereafter Desde el Jardin had a following. I would get emails, texts, phone calls, Facebook messages “Hey Chef, What are you doing for this Friday’s Desde el Jardin” and so it became a Friday ritual...

1. Get to work

2. Receive and meet with Farmer Jet

3. Talk to David at Destin Co. to line up my seafood

4. Arrive at Central super early to walk my coolers, take stock of proteins, write down my music, do my knife work and share it all to the world via social media

Friday nights, one of our busiest, now had a “specials menu” with about 5 items, all hand prepped by yours truly and sold out every night. It was amazing.

There were hits and there were misses, but I shared them all and it was invigorating! I totally immersed myself in great fresh product and be allowed to create, whatever I wanted, wherever my mind and my tunes took me.

Today is my last day at Central, even though it was a short 2.5 years, it feels like a lifetime.

So much has changed, so many people come and gone, both diners and workers, friendships made, connections and bonds strengthened and this restaurant became something more. It is highly self-serving of me and I guess somewhat presumptuous to think that creating one last Desde el Jardin menu is a gift to anyone, but it is from me to all of you, one last gift, one last time…..

Music, set list, product and lots of love………. Here’s my swan song for you Central and #MGM….. Cent’anni!!!