“There’s certainly something really satisfying about putting a little seed in the dirt and just watching it grow,” says owner of Chez Pascal Kristin Gennuso. And she’s right. Nurturing your own produce from seedling to full-blown fruit does something to the soul, fostering a new appreciation for the process of farm-to-table cooking. Until recently, Kristin and her husband Matt were the only ones who could fully relish the sprouting, budding, and harvesting of the restaurant’s rooftop garden. The flat top of the building was only accessible via ladder, making the climb too hazardous for anyone but the owners. The husband-and-wife duo decided to extend the roof of Chez Pascal’s “nook eatery” Wurst Kitchen to allow staff and possibly select customers to enjoy the vegetation as well.
From the inside, the cedar addition gives the room of the Wurst Kitchen a New York studio loft-feel with an expanse of windows letting in natural light from all four walls. A wooden staircase with a white railing leads up to the rooftop, and wooden floors and cream-colored paint make the dining area more open. The decision to expand the restaurant came from a desire to maximize the space. After 15 years, Kristin says, it was either try something new at Chez Pascal, or hang up the towel. “We needed something different, we didn’t feel like we exhausted our efforts in this space.”
Vegetables grown in the container garden will help Chez Pascal expand their retail stand that sits in the back of the Wurst Kitchen dining room. The business just obtained a jarring license, so a variety of pickled vegetables will be available for purchase once the garden is harvested. In addition, both Matt and Kristin hope that they will be able to use the rooftop space to host classes about growing produce and cooking. The lesson would start with a helpful tips from a local farmer and end with a cooking lesson in the belly of the Chez kitchen. But until the first cucumber makes its entrance into the world, customers and staff alike are playing the waiting game. Currently, all of the plants remain in their infancy, secretly stashed in the restaurant’s cavernous basement under a grow light. 960 Hope Street