Another of the remarkable things that make Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort extraordinary
The local flavor and culture of Omni Amelia Island are strongly present in our kitchen. And no place on the property represents this more than The Sprouting Project. Situated on the site of a once abandoned greenhouse, the new facility consists of a state-of-the-art aquaponic greenhouse, an expansive organic garden, a large collection of beehives, and a barrel room where guests can sample infused cocktails, vinegars, and hot sauces. From the chefs to the gardeners to the guests who have the privilege of dining on the fresh, farm-to-fork fare, The Sprouting Project is a one-of-a-kind experience you won’t soon forget.
One chef’s vision, a plethora of delicious results
Executive Chef Daven Wardynski and his team truly excel at capturing the flavors of northeast Florida. A Windy City transplant, Wardynski formerly headed up the culinary department at Omni Chicago Hotel where he made it a priority to incorporate local ingredients wherever possible. Now he’s taken this philosophy a step further, and evolved it into one of the resort’s newest sustainable initiatives. He also maintains relationships with nearly 35 local farmers who supply him with much of the produce that the on-site garden can’t; but for Wardynski, The Sprouting Project is crucial.
Chef Wardynski believes he’s not just sprouting plants, but also sprouting ideas for a different approach toward food. He believes in keeping it simple and letting the food be the hero. By highlighting what grows in the garden and presenting it in a fashion that’s approachable, his food turns heads a bit when people taste it. Wardynski, who refers to the 720-plant aquaponic garden as the “chef’s playground,” is driven to deliver the kinds of dishes you can’t possibly get anywhere else.
From seed to harvest, our gardeners are busy cultivating the ingredients of epicurean masterpieces
As you’d expect, it takes a team of gardeners to maintain The Sprouting Project. The aquaponic greenhouse consists of a complex system of aquaculture and hydroponics. The variety of lettuces and plants that can be found in the greenhouse are continually fed from fish waste recycled from two 500-gallon tanks resting at the far end of the greenhouse. The aquaponic system produces a yield in about half the amount of time as a traditional soil garden, and all free of harmful substances like herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides.
The gardeners are also charged with cultivating the outdoor garden, which features a variety of organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs along with a citrus orchard and pepper patch. From trellised tomatoes lining the perimeter of the greenhouse to satsuma orange trees, the ingredients harvested from The Sprouting Project garden are used to inspire new dishes and complement existing ones. The gardeners embrace their role as integral to the project, and take pride in knowing the produce of their labor will ultimately find its way into nearly every one of the property’s menus.
Your seat at the table awaits
As gratifying as maintaining the garden and preparing the food are, the luckiest ones in the process are the guests who get to savor the results of The Sprouting Project. After touring the greenhouse, the barrel room, the expansive organic garden, and the large collection of beehives, you’ll be seated for a plated dinner that incorporates items harvested directly from The Sprouting Project. The monthly event showcases both the creativity and culture of our chefs in a lush, outdoor setting.
Plan ahead for your Sprouting Project dinner. Each month’s dinner adopts a distinctive theme that incorporates fresh, seasonal ingredients harvested directly from The Sprouting Project. Examples of featured ingredients are peas, raspberries, figs, cucumber, and squash.
Don’t miss out on this standout epicurean experience, offering Southern-inspired farm-to-table dining, cocktails, creativity, and culture in a lush, outdoor setting.
You never know what you’ll find in the barrel room, but you know it’ll be good
One aspect of The Sprouting Project is the incomparable and diverse barrel room. Contents of the thirty-six barrels change often, but there are always a variety of fermented hot sauces and infused balsamic vinegars on hand. The middle section comprises our barrel-aged cocktail program. Chef Daven has an affinity for gin, and makes a superior “Chef’s Negroni Cocktail.” Other barrels consist of an “Apple-Maple-Rum Old Fashioned,” dandelion wine, and Omni Amelia Island’s most popular cocktail, “Palmetto Honey Bourbon.”
The Sprouting Project is abuzz with activity
Located directly behind The Sprouting Project’s greenhouse and nestled quietly among the native Florida palmettos, you’ll find the busiest workers. Sixteen colonies of bees toil around the clock to produce over a thousand pounds of local, organic honey each year for the resort. That honey is harvested by members of our culinary staff who have grown acutely familiar with the bee’s primary line of defense…its sting. The current population of The Sprouting Project’s colony is an astounding 2.5 million, give or take a bee. The liquid gold that they produce is incorporated into nearly all of the resort’s restaurant menus.