Naples restaurant serves local, garden-grown fare

NAPLES, Fla. – A local chef has made the most of the space he has to build a garden and grow his own produce for the kitchen.

Chef Bryan Sutton is the head chef at Veranda E. in Hotel Escalante on S. 5th Ave. Chef Sutton has been in the business for years and seen food trends come and go.

“The 70s, 80s, 90s we were all into everything prefab, everything pre-done and we got away from real food. The flavor’s better, the stuff that’s local because it’s right here.”

In order to get the freshest ingredients Chef Sutton decided to build a garden on the hotel property. At first glance, you can’t even imagine there’s enough space for a garden, but hidden behind a tall fence is an oasis of produce, including leafy greens, spices and papayas.

“I would say 90 percent of the kale we use in the restaurant comes from the garden. Fifty to 70 percent of our lettuces come out of there. Cherry tomatoes, tomatoes and then we have other things: cucumbers or zucchini, or squash, broccoli, cauliflower. We’ll just harvest that or use it,” Sutton said.

This past summer, Chef Sutton even grew luffa just to see how it works. Depending on how much he harvests, he may try to make loofah sponges for the hotel. Chef Sutton says the garden saves a little money but for him it is more about menu transparency and bringing the best tastes to the food he creates.

“For me as a restaurateur, I have to stand behind what I serve,” he said.

Call For Action found 13 Southwest Florida restaurants were cited for mislabeling their dishes as local, organic or farm-to-table. Sutton said Veranda E. is takes its food seriously and he has the invoices to prove it.

Reporter:Lindsey Sablan