PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The David L. Lawrence Convention Center is a LEED certified “green” building.
Nothing could be greener than a vegetable garden on the roof where Chef Dominique Metcalf and sous-chef Tom Bugel gather lettuce, peppers, carrots and tomatoes.
They do the cooking and make the sandwiches for Levy Restaurants which handles food requirements for convention center visitors.
Forty planter boxes are overflowing with vegetables. That’s a good thing, since the guest list can range from 10 people to 10,000.
“It’s 100 percent organic,” Tom Bugel says. “It’s all low-impact gardening. We grow only heirloom vegetables and all the seeds that we use – most of the seeds that we use – are seeds that we have harvested from the last year.”
Nothing is wasted.
“The building composts all the organic waste,” Bugel added. “The soil that the plants are planted in is from compost from the building.”
Then there’s the David L. Lawrence Convention Center Tomato.
“It’s a cross between a white grape tomato and a sun gold,” he said. “We planted two different varieties and they just kind of cross-bred and now they grow everywhere.”
The garden dovetails with the “grow local, farm-to-store” movement. But in this case, it’s rooftop to kitchen, one floor below. That is about as local as you can get.
Once the picking is done, the chef and sous-chef prepare their popular rooftop garden vegetable wrap. It’s a mix of cream cheese and a cornucopia of vegetables.
Chef Dominique says it’s hard to beat the convenience.
“If we need some fresh herbs we forgot to order, we run up to the roof,” she said. “It’s fantastic.”