Dirty Work: Making Mushroom Toast and Spanish Summer Soup with Jose Garces


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Dirty Work: Making Mushroom Toast and Spanish Summer Soup with Jose Garces

We hang out with chef, restaurateur, and 'The Next Iron Chef' winner Jose Garces, as he whips up a few supremely delicious Spanish dishes—including a summer sausage soup and the best mushroom toast ever—using our garden's bounty.
Hilary Pollack
Los Angeles, US

Welcome back to Dirty Work, our series of dispatches from the MUNCHIES Garden. We're inviting chefs, bartenders, and personalities in the world of food and drink to explore our edible playground and make whatever the hell inspires them with our rooftop produce. The results: MUNCHIES Garden recipes for you, dear reader. In this installment, we hang out with chef, restaurateur, and The Next Iron Chef winner Jose Garces, as he whips up a few supremely delicious Spanish dishes using our garden's bounty.


"Picking from the garden and going for it is really the best," says chef Jose Garces—of Amada, Volvér, Buena Onda, and a slew of other beloved Philadelphia restaurants—as he reaches down to pluck and taste a leaf of arugula. "I've harvested lettuces from my garden, put a vinaigrette on them, and then put them in the fridge, and the next day they would still be crisp and fresh."


Garces is in New York to oversee the new Manhattan location of Amada, his first restaurant to open in New York. With its extensive Andalusian tapas menu, excellent happy hour, and build-your-own-gin-and-tonic program, it's unsurprising that Amada is fitting into the Big Apple seamlessly.


"We're just focusing on hospitality, focusing on good product," Garces tells me as we explore the MUNCHIES garden just one month after the new location's opening. "It doesn't really feel that much different. We're still kind of learning, still going through it."


Garces takes his product seriously—especially his produce. He has his own farm, Luna Farm—located in Buck's County, Pennsylvania and named for his family bulldog—from which he sources a great deal of the organic vegetables used in his restaurants.

"We're in kind of a soil regeneration this year, and we're gonna put blueberries in and specialty radish," he says, "But we grew organic vegetables, microgreens, and lettuces. We had chickens, and three beehives there pollinating everything. All the vegetables were delivered to the restaurants twice a week. We really self-integrate everything we were growing."


He's totally at ease as he cruises around our rooftop, pausing to grab some lettuces and herbs here and there. His chef de cuisine, Justin Bogle, cuts the last of the shiitake mushrooms from our logs.

"One thing we learned [from the farm] was how expensive food is," Garces says. "The price of food is so undervalued. Small farms have a tougher time, especially small, organic farms. Crops need to be taken care of individually, so if you're growing multiple vegetables, the maintenance is really high."


Heading back to the kitchen, his haul includes lacinato kale, Boston lettuce, thyme, radishes, chives, and more. On the menu today: a mushroom-topped toast with a radish top and chive pesto, and a Brooklynized take on caldo gallego, the traditional Galician soup typically served as a light pork broth with greens, chorizo, escarole, and white beans.


Garces and Bogle have also brought some of their own ingredients to work with: a big, crusty loaf of rustic bread, a few pork sausages, some golden chanterelles, and loads of morels—those spongy, fragrant little fungi that are prized for their distinct, incredibly umami flavor. Clearly, this is going to be good. Really good.


Garces chiffonades the kale while Bogle cleans the mushrooms. While the meal he's about to prepare may seem decadent, he also takes nutrition and healthy eating seriously.

"I have a foundation, Garces Foundation, and we bring youth from the city up [to the farm] and we do a healthy cooking and nutrition program. Where food comes from, what to do with that food, what to eat. It focuses on the immigrant community, so [we also offer] job workforce training, and literacy—we have ESL classes as well," he explains.


Although his parents are Ecuadorian, and not all of Garces's restaurants offer Spanish cuisine (Buena Onda, for instance, features Baja-style tacos), it's clearly where his heart lies.

"I worked in the Basque country when I left culinary school," he tells me as he sautés some spring onions. "When I finished school, I went and cooked for this priest, Luís de Lezama, who had three restaurants there. I was working at a Michelin-starred restaurant on the port, and I spent six months with him in his kitchen. It really exposed me to Spanish culture."

When he got back to the States, he only became all the more fixated on Spanish food. During his senior year in college, his final project in a business class was a Spanish tapas restaurant. We have a feeling he aced it.


"It's been a journey. And I continue to love it there, and explore, and go back regularly. That's why it became so regional for me. Now, opening up Amada here in New York, I'm exposing myself to even better Spanish ingredients."


A wonderful smell fills the air as he cooks the sausages to add to the caldo.

"The pork broth really lends itself well to spring vegetables," says Garces as he begins to assemble the components of the dish. "The mushroom toast is a tapas-style, country-style dish. Anything on toast."


Bogle spreads a thick slice of the bread with the chive-and-radish-top pesto, then tops it with morels, chanterelles, and shiitakes. Haters of mushrooms need not apply.


A sprinkle of greens, flowers, and radish slices add color to the toast.


Meanwhile, a perfectly poached egg is drenched in hot broth as Garces finally finishes off the caldo. Though it's made with hearty slices of sausage and gets another hit of richness from the egg's yolk, the light broth makes this dish perfect for a summer lunch or dinner—whether you're in the Basque country or Brooklyn.

RECIPE: Caldo de Brooklyn


The toast is almost too pretty to bite into, but with its glorious assortment of mushrooms and that irresistible pesto, we did anyway, of course. Eat your heart out, avocado toast.

RECIPE: Shiitake and Wild Mushroom Montaeito with Radish-top and Chive Pesto


New York is ready for his food, but does Garces feel ready to branch out of Philadelphia?

Definitely. But he's also got a lot of hometown pride. "Philadelphia's food scene has evolved so much in the last five years," he says. "It's a great opportunity for young chefs to make their own mark."

And also to make some damn good tapas.