The honeybee hives atop the Waldorf Astoria hotel don't have to travel far for their pollen sources. The iconic hotel made good on a promise to open a chef's garden in the bees' backyard, which they unveiled at a media event this week. The hotel has installed nine raised plantings beds on a 20th Floor rooftop space in addition to several large planters with a few kinds of fruit trees.
The bounty from the garden has already been incorporated into dishes at the hotel's restaurants and bars, including their Sunday Brunches at Peacock Alley. Chef De Cuisine Matt Schindler used up massive amounts of kale last weekend and looks forward to harvesting the carrots, which have already begun to peek through the soil. Edible flowers, various strains of thyme and other herbs, and lots of lettuces fill out many of the plantings. A row of apple trees are growing quickly but won't bear fruit until at least next year, but plump tomatoes can already be seen on the trellis along one wall.
Tim Gunn, filling in for Bette Midler as ambassador from the New York Restoration Project, helped to plant one of two sour cherry trees, whose yield will find a home as garnish in the hotel's version of a Manhattan cocktail. The rooftop trees count towards the Project's MillionTreesNYC initiative, which seeks to plant one million new trees throughout New York City by 2017. George Pisegna, Director of Horticulture and Public Programs at The Hort, designed and planted the garden and will maintain it through the seasons.
The garden can be viewed on one of the hotel's Historic Tours, which take place on Thursdays and Saturdays. Call the reservations desk at (212) 872-1275 to reserve a spot on a tour—stylish celebrity appearances not guaranteed.