The Greenhouse

Gavin Baker

Chef

 

What is your favorite part of being a chef in Asheville?

Being so close to the producers and farmers who provide Asheville and the surrounding area with such amazing products & produce.

What is the background of your restaurant’s name?

We wanted a name that reflected the decor of the restaurant, which features big glass windows into the kitchen coupled with all the atrium windows and big glass roll-up doors on the exterior–and tons of plants in the dining room of course! It also reflects our commitment to growth and sustainability.

What ingredient could you not live without?

This may sound cliche, but the ingredient I could not live without in the kitchen is salt. It never ceases to amaze me how a dish goes from ‘okay’ to ‘Amazing!’ with the addition of a little salt – or, more often, a little more salt. This includes pastries and sweet foods. Salt aside, the ingredient that we could not live without in our kitchen is fruit wood. Specifically, fruit wood from Noble’s partner orchards. Half of the dishes on our menu are cooked over fruit wood and charcoal in our Josper oven. It is the signature flavor profile of The Greenhouse.

What is your favorite dish on your menu?

My favorite dish at the moment is our Roasted Atlantic Scallops with Pawpaw Ketchup, House Bacon Lardons, and Pickle Brine Foam. One of our foragers brought us a bunch of pawpaws during it’s very short season and we preserved it as an Indonesian-inspired ketchup to use throughout the fall. Our house bacon is smoked forever and rendered slowly for bursts of smoky umami and salt to partner with the sweet of the pawpaw. The dish is then finished with an emulsified pickling brine made with house-made Spice Merchant vinegar and tons of aromatics: lemon peel, licorice root, coriander seeds, allspice, tarragon and much more.  I’m a big fan of this dish because it shows off all of the elements that we believe in on one plate: my brother’s cider as a vinegar, multiple aromatics, locally-foraged pawpaws, house made and smoked bacon, and impeccably fresh seafood from the Atlantic coast. Big flavors that cover the entire palette.

What is your favorite dish from a fellow AIR restaurant’s menu?

I gotta say – I’m a very big fan of City Bakery’s cinnamon bun – but make sure to get it warmed up! I have a mean sweet tooth. 

Why did you choose Asheville to open your restaurant?

It was time to come home. 

What is your favorite chef’s tool and why?

Aside from a well-sharpened knife, my favorite kitchen tool is a set of 10″ surgical tweezers that are bent at the end. I don’t use them for plating necessarily, but they are extremely helpful for moving things around in the pan.