Sharing a Passion for Produce (and a Gazpacho Recipe) at Napa Valley Grille Print
Written by Ann Shepphird   
Chef Joseph of Napa Valley Grille

The passion that Napa Valley Grille Executive Chef Joseph Gillard has for local seasonal produce extends beyond the fare he picks up at the farmers market or purchases through partnerships with local farmers for his guests at the restaurant. Gillard has partnered with Country Fresh Herbs in Tarzana to run a CSA (community-supported agriculture) program that connects the farmers directly with busy professionals who don't have the time to shop farmers markets. Gillard has been partnering with Country Fresh Herbs since 1997 and one of the things he's learned is that participating is a lot easier than people think. "More restaurants and organizations should be doing it," said Gillard, shown here presenting a CSA basket to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. "It is easy to have vegetables delivered even to where you work. Our guests are as passionate about their deliveries as we are."

Through both his work at Napa Valley Grille and with the CSA, Chef Gillard's main focus is sustainability -- the need to support local farmers so they can continue doing their work. The menu at Napa Valley Grille changes with what's available at the markets and from the local farmers. Currently that includes petite heirloom zucchini and flowers, lemon cucumbers, little gem and butter lettuce, kale, peaches, radishes and, of course, heirloom tomatoes. 

Since many of us currently have an abundance of tomatoes (yea!), Chef Gillard shared with us a recipe for heirloom tomato gazpacho. He said he keeps some in his refrigerator at home as a "healthy fulfilling snack to be enjoyed anytime." (Click "read more" for recipe.)

Vine Ripe Tomato Gazpacho

Serves 4
1 tomato, vine ripe
1 ea. cucumber, Persian
1/4 ea. onion, sweet
2 ea. radish
1 ea. garlic clove, smashed
1 ea. bell pepper, red
1/2 ea. jalapeno
2 oz. olive oil, extra virgin
1 cup tomato juice
1 oz. red wine vinegar
1/2 bunch cilantro, tops only
2 ea. basil sprigs, leaves only
sea salt, to taste

Wash all ingredients and place in food processor and pulse until well chopped. Add all other ingredients and season to taste.