The Singhampton Project

10 May

In a celebration of food, art and nature, Ontario chef-farmer Michael Stadtlander (left) recently joined forces with Parisian landscape artist Jean Paul Ganem (right) to create the Singhampton Project.

The duo have planted seven gardens in the forests, meadows and hills of Eigensinn Farm, each with a cooking and dining area. Between August 10 and 26 this summer, guests can have a seven-course feast on the property, eating one dish in each garden. Chef Stadtlander will accompany them on their adventure, preparing and serving up courses inspired by each garden.


While it’s still spring, and it’ll take a few months for these gardens to mature,  I got a good sense of how unique this dining experience is going to be on a recent trip to Eigensinn Farm.

Among my favourite installation gardens were the infinity-symbol-shaped “Salad Bar.” There, the chef will snip micro greens growing on-site as the guests settle around the table. He’ll take raspberries from the bushes on the garden’s perimeter to use in his vinaigrette. These elements will serve as a bed for the mini cheese grillers that diners will enjoy in this peaceful spot, where birdsong is the soothing soundtrack and fields and trees are the gorgeous backdrop.

I was also intrigued by a barren field, in which vivid green circles of sweet grasses, clover and English rye will lure free-roaming sheep and cattle, rather like catnip does cats. The animals will congregate where the pasture tastes best–in those perfect circles–while the humans who arrive to dine on spit-roasted meat will also be seated in a ring.

In the The Tipi Field native species such as corn, beans and squash will thrive in rows emanating from a giant tipi, which was created as a Montessori school project. Smaller tipis will serve as climbing structures.

And in The Chef’s Garden the tables will be turned: Stadtlander has designed a garden featuring peppers, tomatoes, onions and garlic that he will tend to honour Ganem, the man who designed all six of the rest. With these ingredients, the Tunisian-born designer’s favourite dish, Makbouba (a cold cooked vegetable salad), will be cooked up. A circle of trees will delineate the space, and once this event is over, they will continue to grow as a reminder of the magic he created here in the summer of 2012.

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For more information and to make reservations, call 519-922-3128.

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