ROOFTOP FOOD FOR­EST

Life & Style Weekend - - ESCAPE -

The QT at the Gold Coast is not an or­di­nary ho­tel and so it’s not sur­pris­ing that its kitchen gar­dens are out of the or­di­nary too. The chefs have taken over the ho­tel’s level two rooftop space and turned it into a large and pro­duc­tive gar­den or “food for­est” with sea­sonal fruits, veg­eta­bles, flow­ers and herbs. Not sur­pris­ing ei­ther is the fact that its chefs are com­bin­ing their love of fresh or­ganic produce with a strong so­cial con­science. The re­sults are, like the rest of the ho­tel, re­mark­able. Trained in the UK, QT ex­ec­u­tive chef Greg Ben­ney says he was al­ways taught to work with the fresh­est lo­cal in­gre­di­ents and you can’t get much fresher than grow­ing them your­self. “I call the gar­den our food for­est be­cause it’s not your typ­i­cal plants-in-a-row-type gar­den, it’s very wild,” he says. “It is a per­ma­cul­ture gar­den, which is 100 per cent pes­ti­cide-free. “It was hard work at first be­cause of the wind and salt from the sea but I work with a won­der lady, Jen Ste­wart of Jen’s Lawn Mow­ing and To­tal Gar­den Care. She is also a trainer for Abil­i­ties Plus, which is a not-for-profit pro­gram aimed at dis­ad­van­taged and dis­abled peo­ple in the Gold Coast com­mu­nity. “Jen trains stu­dents how to grow from seed to har­vest and they take care of the gar­den three days a week as they work to­wards their Cer­tifi­cate I and II in Hor­ti­cul­ture.” Next time you’re at the QTS Bazaar restau­rant you can sam­ple the home-grown produce in meat rubs, mari­nades, sal­ads and some cocktails.

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