On a chilly Saturday night, right before Valentine’s Day, a culinary-loving Cleveland couple—David and Amanda— spent February 9th as chefs for the day at the Culinary Vegetable Institute, courtesy of a Christmas gift certificate. They described the experience as one where they felt surrounded by people who were “so friendly and so welcoming. It’s just like being at someone’s house for a dinner party or just hanging out with friends.”

After having spent an evening where they manned plating stations, helped to assemble and garnish, ran plates from the warmer, learned to use some of the kitchen’s high-tech equipment and more, they were understandably tired. Fortunately, as part of the experience, the couple also reserved two nights in the Chef Suite at the Culinary Vegetable Institute, allowing them to revel in a unique luxury farm stay.

“The room is fantastic,” David told us, “and it’s a great way to end your meal and watch other people go out into the cold and try to get home, while we just walked upstairs and turned on the fireplace and got under the covers, and it was a perfect end to the night.”

Then, Amanda shared another big plus: “And you don’t have to wait on an Uber!”

If this sounds intriguing to you, keep reading for an in-depth look at luxury farm stays available at the Culinary Vegetable Institute, something you can enjoy with or without the Chef for a Day experience.

 More About This Unique Experience

 “A farm stay at the Culinary Vegetable Institute,” says Jamie Simpson, Executive Chef Liaison, “is ideal for people who really want to get away, to disconnect, to become part of another world. On the one hand, it’s certainly not geographically far from the rest of the world. On the other hand, it can be a complete disconnection, a true retreat.”

This farm stay is also a unique blend of two radically different experiences. There are, for example, true luxury hotels, and there are also opportunities to stay on a farm. The Culinary Vegetable Institute provides a fascinating intersection of the two that can be hard to describe—but we’ll sure try.

First, picture a spa at an exclusive luxury hotel. That’s one type of experience. Then imagine an earthy, no-frills, rustic stay at a farm. That’s on the other end of the spectrum. We meet in the middle in a way that probably can’t be experienced anywhere else in the world, providing the ultimate in comfort in combination with the experiences that go along with being on a real working farm.

At the Culinary Vegetable Institute, for example, you can use a loofah sponge, one created after we grow the loofah, peel the product to make a sponge and then dip it in beeswax soap that we’ve created by hand using the wax made from bees that feast on the flowers in our garden.

Now, that’s the kind of luxury farm stay we offer!

 “During your stay,” Chef Jamie adds, “you can get a better understanding of where, say, a carrot comes from, what it looks like in the field, and it can be a transformative experience, the type that can change the way you think and that can stick with you forever. You’ve experienced a moment in time that will never be captured again.”

Some people choose to stay close to the Culinary Vegetable Institute and Chef’s Garden during their stay, while others visit nearby towns. “It’s all up to you,” Jamie adds. “We have some people who want to spend most of their time in the kitchen, while other people use it as a kind of home base. A well-known children’s author, for example, stayed in our suite and then headed out to do book signings in Detroit, Cleveland, Toledo and Buffalo. It’s an ideal writer’s retreat.”

What virtually every visitor appreciates, though, is the opportunity to recharge in nature.

Healing Power of Nature

 “We don’t experience natural environments enough to realize how restored they can make us feel, nor are we aware that studies also show they make us healthier, more creative, more empathetic and more apt to engage with the world and with each other. Nature, it turns out, is good for civilization.” (Florence Williams, “The Nature Fix”)

 As a thoughtful article in MinnPost.com shares, a combination of technology and demographics has caused us to pivot “further away from nature than any generation before us.” The article also included the quote we shared from The Nature Fix, and otherwise shares how science is finding that, when we embrace nature, we can become happier, healthier and more creative.

And, the article also shares intriguing ways that people around the world are returning to nature to boost health and wellbeing, including:

  • Forest bathing, which is a poetic method of describing a way to slowly reopen your senses to woods and streams
  • Metsänpeitto: In Finland, people design parks inspired by “legends of ancient woodland spirits” that create intense nature encounters, what one person describes as a little bit like “forest bathing on acid.”
  • Therapy gardens, such as one in Sweden that uses all-weather glass greenhouses to help heal people who are struggling with disabling work-related stress
  • Green walls and vertical gardens; to help, we’ve scouted out information about the world’s largest vertical garden, one with 85,000 lush plants that cover 33,368 square feet. Located in Bogota, Columbia, this garden can produce oxygen for more than 3,100 people for an entire year and can also “process 1,708 pounds of heavy metals, filter more than 2,000 tons of harmful gases and catch more than 881 pounds of dust.”

You can also find a healthy dose of nature therapy at the Culinary Vegetable Institute, where you will be surrounded by experimental vegetable, forest and herb gardens. Depending upon the season, you may find yourself surrounded by Monarch butterflies as they gently travel through our area, feasting on the nectar of our buckwheat flowers. You may also find yourself serenaded by the songs of wild birds, something that an environmental psychology researcher at the University of Surrey suggests can help both mood and attention.

Here’s just one observation from the researcher about how bird song evokes emotions. “Some associations may be personal, such as blackbirds and long summer evenings, or a link between a particular bird and a time or place from childhood. Other associations may be cultural and shared between many people through folklore and stories, often about events that are constants in one’s life: the swallow and the coming of summer, or the kookaburra’s laugh and the rising sun.”

There’s also immense healing power in simply having a place to retreat. Yes, vacations can be wonderful, but can leave you more time-crunched and harried than before you left, while healing retreats allow you to relax, to recharge, to refresh and rejuvenate.

A healing retreat can be, according to an article at Chopra.com, like letting “fresh air into your minds.”

More About Luxury Farm Stays

The Executive Chef’s Suite at The Culinary Vegetable Institute is ideal for someone who is looking for a personal retreat or for a couple wishing to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. You would be the sole lodger(s) in a rustic-yet-modern building crafted from the forests that surround it: oak, walnut, and sycamore.

The suite contains a spacious living area, along with roomy dining and bedroom areas (with a king-sized bed!), and a kitchenette, with richly-colored wood and natural lighting complementing the spectacular views of the rustic-wooded property. The suite features a fireplace and a two-person whirlpool, with daily housekeeping and a focus on making your unique stay memorable. You have access to the dining room, as well as the gardens and grounds, with a special breakfast basket and a well-stocked refrigerator provided. (Complimentary Wi-Fi is also available.)

You can make your luxury farm stay the focal point of your retreat or you can pair your stay with another Culinary Vegetable Institute event, such as the following.

Vegetable Showcase

 Here’s how we describe our Vegetable Showcase Series.

When we plan our vegetable showcase dinners, the design process begins with the ingredient and place it on the highest pedestal. We classify traditional pairings and non-traditional pairings into columns titled: Meats. Fish. Grains. Herbs. Condiments. Alcohols. Vegetables. Spices. Nuts. Fats. Dairy. Then we consider preparations: Sauté. Fry. Roast. Bake. Grill. Ferment. Dehydrate. Juice. Freeze. Pulverize. Reconstitute. We look at every element of the plant as well, and question how we can incorporate every piece or part: Seed. Root/Tuber. Stem. Leaf. Bloom. Stamen. Fruit. We think about affinities of flavors and experiences in putting together combinations on the plate and dishes on the menu. Then the imagination kicks in, and we get busy in the kitchen.

Uncorking: Wine-Food Pairing Series

 In Uncorking, here’s a bit about what we do.

This series allows us the opportunity to look at the world of food and wine pairing from the perspective of the quintessential vegetable farm. Vegetables are moving toward the center of the plate, with flavors, textures and cooking methods that play a significant role in the overall impression of a dish. What a great opportunity to revisit the notion of wine-food pairing, by thinking first of the vegetable as it relates to the liquid in the glass . . . one of our favorite notions of how to pair wine with food comes from Italian writer Victor Hazan, opining that the most successful choices have more to do with pairing wine with the preferences and personality of your dining guest than anything else! This practice provides wonderful opportunities for shared exploration.

 Luxury Farm Stays and Unique Amenities

 As part of your farm stay, you can select from a menu of customized amenities to make your stay truly personal. They include a:

  • seasonally-inspired dinner just for you (or two!), created exclusively by our executive chef; served in our private dining room, it can include select wine pairings
  • roaring bonfire on the grounds, complete with cocktails and hors d’oeuvre grilled over the open fire
  • Belgian horse-drawn wagon ride around the spectacular grounds of the Culinary Vegetable Institute

 When Love is in the Air

 The spacious Chef’s Suite is also ideal as a place for the bride and bridesmaids to get dressed and ready for a wedding on our grounds. You are welcome to bring your salon services as you prepare for the ceremony and we will provide you with light snacks and non-alcoholic beverages—and then you can reserve the suite for an overnight stay after the wedding and enjoy a breakfast basket at your leisure in the morning.

If this sounds appealing to you, we’ve noticed that plenty of 2019 wedding trends predicted by experts dovetail perfectly with a Culinary Vegetable Institute wedding and reception. Here are just three of them.

According to WeddingWire.com: “presenting your food in a creative way will be more important than ever this year. Whether you’re a serious foodie or simply want to provide an interactive conversation starter for your guests, using food as part of your decor is one of the major 2019 wedding reception trends.”

At the Culinary Vegetable Institute, we can create a menu that is unique to you. Literally unique to you, including signature cocktails.

Brides.com notes that florals can be used to represent “cherished childhood memories.” We can do the same through the use of edible flowers sustainably farmed at The Chef’s Garden in dishes, drinks and desserts.

Plus, increasing numbers of couples, ThisIsInsider.com reports, are wanting to turn food into art, something that the Culinary Vegetable Institute specializes in. And here are even more insights into how the Culinary Vegetable Institute can help to create a wedding day to remember, one that can end with a fabulous overnight stay.

Booking a Luxury Farm Stay

Please contact us online or call 419.499.7500. Check-in time is 4 p.m. and checkout is noon. We look forward to providing you with a customized, one-of-a-kind, unforgettable experience!

Relax. Retreat. Recharge. Renew. Rejuvenate.