ROOFTOP FOOD FOREST
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.