26 THE NATIONAL CULINARY REVIEW • MAY/JUNE 2018
SPOTLIGHT ON . . . honey
rank Sanchez never imagined his work would take him inside
a beehive. Executive chef at Chicago Marriott Downtown
Magnificent Mile, Sanchez has always been committed to using the
freshest local and sustainable ingredients. But running an apiary, he
discovered, brought the farm-to-table movement to an entirely new
level. Just weeks into the job, the hotel’s beekeeper, Greg Fischer,
told him to put a bee suit on.
“It was terrifying,” says Sanchez of the first time he stepped
into the rooftop hive. “I could hear the buzzing and feel the
vibrations. I had never experienced something so small be so
powerful.” Before long, Sanchez almost felt like he became one
with the hive.
Sanchez is part of a growing movement among chefs to save
bees—and produce honey in the process. Sure, you can be a
farm-to-table operation without keeping bees, but installing a
hive not only adds flair to signature dishes, it may also save the
planet. “Beekeeping is in vogue right now, and I think it’s related
to the idea that if we don’t save our bees, our world will not be
able to function,” says Sanchez.
The apiary trend is buzzing.
By Amy Paturel
In an era where chefs are making
their own charcuterie, brewers are growing
their own hops and baristas are handpicking coffee beans, it shouldn’t come as
a surprise that the nationwide apiary trend is
buzzing. And while honeybees in various regions
of the country are mysteriously disappearing—the
average annual bee loss is up to 45%—the hives
on the rooftops of hotels and restaurants across the
country are thriving.
Dating back to ancient times, humans have recognized
honey as a sort of liquid gold. The bees that produce it work hard
to collect the sugary secretions of plants (a.k.a., nectar) and store
the resulting sweetness in wax structures called honeycombs. That
honey not only sustains the bees during the cold winter months, it
also allows culinarians to harvest the excess.
To extract the honey, beekeepers cut the wax on the outside of
the honeycomb with a hot knife, then put the actual comb into a
centrifuge. A heating element outside the machine slowly spins,
heating the honey until it leaks out of the bottom into a bucket.
The process, says Sanchez, is really easy, really messy
and really tasty. The flavors it yields, though, depend on
myriad factors—which flowers the bees feast on, where
they’re buzzing and the changing weather conditions.
OPPOSITE, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: 1) & 2) Some of the honey varieties, left,
that executive chef Daven Wardynski harvests from the beehives at Omni Amelia
Island Plantation Resort. Different varieties of honey are available to guests each
day at the resort’s Sunrise Café. 3) & 4) At The Honey Paw, chefs use honey as a
flavor enhancer in several applications, from sauces and dressings to the restaurant’s
signature fried chicken and desserts. 5) Peaches and walnuts with fresh honey
harvested at Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort.