All photos/art by Heath Robbins
“I grew up on a farm in New Hampshire,” says Frank McClelland, “so I couldn’t imagine not having a garden, let alone not teaching my children about how things grow.” For almost two decades, Frank has been chef and owner of Boston’s L’Espalier restaurant, a fine-dining spot that has long set the standard for elegance in cuisine and service.
“At L’Espalier, we are completely focused on the seasons of New England,” says Frank. “A long time ago, I made a commitment to using local products — a lot from my home garden and the roof deck here at the restaurant — and to supporting people close to us who are making cheese, raising livestock, and catching seafood.”
As he pokes though the dirt and clips herbs from his home garden outside Boston, he explains that “it makes sense: food that is in season and doesn’t have to travel far just tastes better. Taste a strawberry still warm from the sun in late June. Then consider one from who knows where in January — they should have different names, they taste so completely different.”
In his home garden, Frank plants herbs, edible flowers, potatoes (“the kids love to dig for them — it’s like finding a prize in the dirt”), peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes. Berries grow wild around the yard. In the rooftop garden above L’Espalier on Gloucester Street, “it’s mostly greens, herbs, and tomatoes.” Throughout spring and summer, white-jacketed cooks in Frank’s busy kitchen are often running up the stairs to the roof to snip fragrant herbs for sauces or harvest tender lettuces that will quickly become a garnish or the star of a dinner guest’s first course.
L’Espalier, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 774 Boylston, St., Boston, MA. 617-262-3023. lespalier.com
Read Annie’s review of L’Espalier.
Enjoy Frank’s recipes for vegetables, main courses — even dessert.