As part of its Made with Nature platform established in 2020, Belvedere Vodka introduced its first USDA-certified organic line of vodkas this summer and called on eco-minded chef Kwame Onwuachi to help celebrate the launch in New York City.
The acclaimed Los Angeles–based chef is best known for appearing on Bravo’s Top Chef, opening Kith and Kin restaurant in Washington, D.C., and authoring Notes from a Young Black Chef. He’s passionate about implementing green initiatives in the kitchen, making him an ideal collaborator. “There's so much food waste and food insecurity in America, so [sustainability] is something that is very important to me,” Onwuachi told Wine Spectator.
Onwuachi was tasked with designing one of three greenhouse structures for Belvedere’s immersive experience at Elizabeth Street Garden, a public sculpture garden in New York’s Nolita neighborhood. Plant-based design studio Original Rose and sustainable clothing designer Maxwell Osborne oversaw the design of the other two greenhouses, respectively, and each took inspiration from Belvedere’s three flavors of naturally infused vodkas (blackberry and lemongrass, lemon and basil, and pear and ginger).
Onwuachi’s installation was based on the infusion with pear, ginger and linden honey. He adorned his greenhouse with dramatic floral arrangements, lots of greenery and a bounty of edible decorations like baskets of gooseberries and leaves of swiss chard. “I wanted it to be very reflective of the organic infusions; I wanted it to be green and lush,” Onwuachi said. Two sides of the structure sported designs inspired by artist Keith Haring. Cocktails were offered, of course, along with a signature dish by the chef that was also inspired by his assigned infusion: Marinated pear and avocado salad with a ginger and gooseberry piri piri. In addition to the compostable decor, every part of the greenhouse was broken down and reused after the event, even the aluminum structure.
While Onwuachi was excited to lend a hand to Belvedere’s Made with Nature platform—which includes initiatives like reducing plastic in its packaging and shifting to greener energy—he was also overjoyed to simply attend an in-person event again.
“It was really good to be around people and smile and laugh, and to see others people's smiles. That's why I got into the hospitality industry to begin with, to see happiness,” he said. “I was extremely grateful to be there, and I think everybody was just elated. The sun came out, it was a beautiful gathering of people, and it showed where we’re going and how we’re back.”
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