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Paradigm Gardens Q&A with Alex Harrell

Paradigm Gardens is an urban farm located in the middle of New Orleans near the Superdome. The farm hosts regular events on Mondays and Tuesdays throughout the Fall. On November 15, 2016, Alex Harrell (CTW-’13) is cooking a “Concert Series” dinner with Chef Nick Martin of Primitivo. We caught up with Alex to ask him about the event and his work with Paradigm Gardens. To learn more about other dinners in this series, click here.

Alex Harrell Chefs to Watch

Photos: Jimmy Seely

Chefs to Watch: Alex, tell us about Paradigm Gardens

Alex Harrell: It’s a restaurant-supported community garden in Central City. It’s primarily supported by Patois, Coquette, and Primitivo. They grow seasonal produce for the restaurants, and also have goats, chickens and fruit trees. It’s like a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm, but with chefs as the end customer. It’s a very unique arrangement.

It’s been around for three or four years, and they’ve been doing events at the garden for the past couple of years featuring their chef-partners and other friends.

 CTW: How did you get involved with the farm?

AH: I first heard about Paradigm Gardens through social media, and from my friend Aaron Burgau at Patios. He was using a lot of their produce in his restaurant. 

As far as the dinner this week, I was asked by Nick Martin, the Chef at Primitivo, to cook a dinner with them. The dinner is a family-style buffet with oysters to start. We have the team from ‘Two Girls One Shuck” serving up raw oysters, and I”ll be roasting oysters as well. Then we’re moving on to the flavors of fall, with lamb shoulder and a cassoulet of root vegetables, some roasted beets, and a farro and grilled pumpkin salad. We’ll also have a Gulf seafood stew with lots of fennel, tomatoes, and that sort of thing.

Alex Harrell Chefs to Watch

CTW: How did the farm inspire your menu for the dinner?

AH: We took a look at what they have and what they are raising right now, and we are incorporating the current produce offerings into the menu planning. I started talking with Nick about this a few months ago, and we talked to Joel at Paradigm to see what would be ready. We wanted to serve as much produce from the farm as possible, and we will.

CTW: What makes dinners like this fun for your as a chef?

AH: It’s a different format, it’s much more communal. It’s a much different environment than the restaurant. You’re cooking outside, hanging out outside, using Paradigm’s wood-burning grill. It’s a different focus. It’s more relaxed and family style. You get to hang out with the diners and be more involved in the entire experience. It’s a lot more interactive.

CTW: How to you bring the experience of your restaurant, Angeline, to a pop-up dinner at a farm? 

AH: At this dinner, I’m representing Angeline, and a dinner like this exposes our restaurant to a different customer base. We can reach people who haven’t come down to the French Quarter in a while. They can see an example of what we do in Angeline.

For instance, I’m serving the lamb cassoulet with the same lam shoulder we serve at the restaurant. It’s a good tie-in, but different than the restaurant because we will serve it family style with a slightly different set up. I want the diners at Paradigm to have the same food quality, service, and attention to detail we have at Angeline, but in a more relaxed, casual, outdoor setting. 

Alex Harrell Chefs to Watch


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