Whidbey Gardening Workshop gets cooking

Executive chef Vincent Nattress is one of the many experts leading classes at this year
Executive chef Vincent Nattress is one of the many experts leading classes at this year's Whidbey Gardening Workshop, coming to Coupeville on March 18.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Todd Peterson

Too many cooks may spoil the broth, but a commendable collection of chefs is the dish that can't be missed at this year's Whidbey Gardening Workshop.

Organizers of the annual workshop have announced that this year's event will feature seven classes on cooking and preserving the wonderful food islanders grow.

Vincent Nattress, the former executive chef at award-winning restaurants in Napa Valley — Roux in St. Helena, and the luxury resort Meadowood Napa Valley — will give the class “Great Greens for Dining.”

Nattress is a recent transplant on Whidbey.

“In my five years at Meadowood, one of the things I’m proudest of is the development of a large, year-round garden,” Nattress said.

He worked closely with the gardeners and chefs at the restaurant to assure that menus prominently featured produce from the garden. As a chef, he said he always looks to local sources for fresh vegetables, meat and fish, and describes himself as an avid gardener and committed locavore.

Responding to rapidly increasing interest in locally grown, nutritious food, the workshop will also offer “Plan Your Garden Nutritiously” with Val Hillers and “Eating From Your Garden Year Round” with Linda Bartlett. Bartlett co-owns Rose Hip Farm and supplies customers with weekly baskets of fresh produce.

Want to add savor to your home cooked meals? Take in George Sasso’s “Cooking With Herbs.” And to show you how to care for your harvest to eat well all winter, Vivian Smallwood presents “Basics of Food Preservation” and “Can It, Freeze It, Dry It”.

Graham Kerr, the Galloping Gourmet, comes to the workshop fresh from his first years as a kitchen gardener. Cooking publicly since 1960, Kerr has produced more than 1,000 television shows on cooking and healthy eating. He will give participants guidance on preparing and serving the bounty of the garden.

The Whidbey Gardening Workshop is Saturday, March 19 at Coupeville High School. Altogether the workshop offers 59 instructional sessions from “Gardening 101: The Good Earth” to “In Praise of Native Pollinators.”

For a complete list of workshop classes and to register online, go to To register by mail, call 360-240-5527.  Register in person at the WSU office in the Island County Courthouse complex or on site the day of the workshop. The cost is $35, with a box lunch available for $8.

The Whidbey Gardening Workshop is a program of the Master Gardeners of Island County.

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