Eleven storeys above Russell Street, tucked behind QT Melbourne’s rooftop bar, is a secret kitchen garden. Until recently the rooftop oasis was used exclusively by chef Andy Harmer to grow produce for the hotel’s fine diner Pascale Bar & Grill, but now the space is being opened up to host private, tailor-made functions.
When Harmer started his role as executive chef at Pascale just over a year ago, he jumped at the chance to use the vacant space for a garden. He knew the plants he wanted to cook with and created a garden filled with native produce such as karkalla, native river mint and blue lilly pilly.
“It grew really well, the conditions up there are really quite perfect for growing. There’s no wind interruption, maximum sunlight, great amount of rain. Things grew incredibly well,” Harmer tells Broadsheet.
At the private functions he will host in the garden – which can accommodate up to 25 guests – Harmer is eager to educate diner’s about what’s on the menu.
“[People are] very receptive at the moment to learning about food, how things work together, flavour profiles, things like that,” says Harmer. “We’re trying to educate people into what these flavours can do. It’s an ideal opportunity to get in there and experience it.”
Two packages are available depending on the size and style of event you’re looking for. The campfire package – which starts from $100 per person – includes baked potatoes, charcuteries and salads served up on a sanded down rustic table. A personal chef will lead guests around the garden, guiding them to pick the plants and herbs for the salads.
The intimate chef’s table option – for up to 10 guests – is an elegant “dining under the stars” experience hosted by Harmer himself. To accompany the meal, champagne cocktails using elements from the garden will be matched to each course by a bartender who will also teach diners how to make the drinks at home.
The evening’s menu could include dishes such as barbequed marron with sorrel and wagyu tongue dressing, but Harmer will also also tailor the meal to diners’ personal preferences.
“If you would like it to be fish driven with vegetables, or a good eclectic mix of things, we can do all of that and completely tailor make it to your needs,” says Harmer. “I’ve searched high and low to get some very unique plants up there.”
When asked where these come from Harmer laughs it off.
“I’m not giving that away mate,” he says.
A secret garden indeed.
Bookings for the Secret Garden at QT Melbourne can be made here.