As West Loop restaurant Eden shifts in the wake of the pandemic, executive chef Devon Quinn takes us inside his world of botany and horticulture.
“Community service and involvement has always been a responsibility that we take seriously,” says Eden chef Devon Quinn. “We donate our services and food throughout the year to a number of different organizations, including Meals on Wheels, Hephzibah Children’s Association, One Million Degrees, Growing Home, Green City Market and many others”; Eden’s on site greenhouse.
“I love to grow what I cook,” says chef Devon Quinn. That ethos has informed the breadth of his career—first with the opening of West Loop hot spot Eden; then as the restaurant closed in the face of the coronavirus, transitioning to private, intimate dinners; and now with his on-site greenhouse and garden.
After coming up under the talents of Jean- Michel Diot, Andrew Zimmerman and Tony Mantuano, Quinn opened Eden in 2016 to much fanfare. The philosophy: seasonal cooking with fresh ingredients of the highest quality, sourced—quite literally—from out back. “My personal style comes from nature,” he explains. “I like to grow the best ingredients with as little manipulation as possible so that the guest is tasting it at its best.” Thus, Eden’s greenhouse and garden were born.
Using seeds he cultivated himself, Quinn has nourished his year-round, fully sustainable mini garden empire. “There is something to be said for being able to serve something you have grown from seed—and never refrigerated,” he urges. As fall settles in, Quinn will transfer his plantings into the greenhouse to weather the winter months. The ingredient he is most keen on, however, is honeynut squash, a successful new hybrid developed by chef Dan Barber in partnership with Cornell University and grown at Nichols Farm & Orchard in Marengo. “It’s smaller and sweeter than a butternut squash and is great roasted as a single serving,” he waxes poetic.
Quinn’s passion for food, ingredients and gardening is intoxicating. While Eden’s dining room remains shuttered, it continues to host private events and dinners upon request. For this chef, though, the future is in his dirt. “It is my goal,” he says, “to continue my education in botany and horticulture and to vastly expand our growing capabilities; to work with our neighbors to create jobs and educational opportunities; and, most importantly, to grow good, organic food.” 1748 W. Lake St.