Chef J.W. Foster tends to his rooftop garden. photography by Kevin Hunter Marple

Chef J.W. Foster Is a Constant Gardener

As part of his commitment to reduce his carbon footprint, the Pyramid Restaurant chef grows herbs and produce atop The Fairmont Dallas.

A slight breeze ruffles tiny leaves of Tuscan rosemary in a plush herb and vegetable garden nestled in a 3,000-square-foot space on top of The Fairmont Dallas. By 10 a.m. most days, Pyramid Restaurant & Bar executive chef J.W. Foster has already been up to the roof twice.  “I’m involved in all aspects from planning to planting. Everything from watering and daily maintenance to making chutneys and pickles from our harvest,” he says. “I check my pumpkins or watermelons, pick fresh herbs and vegetables for the restaurant. Then I cut back plants that have finished for the season to make room for the next crop.” Chef Foster’s commitment to reducing his carbon footprint and supporting local ranchers and growers goes beyond his rooftop paradise. If he doesn’t grow it himself, rest assured it’s still organic, local, and fresh. Each day he smokes a variety of Texas-raised meats in-house and makes his own bread, pastas, mustards, and ice creams. And at the end of the day, after checking on his harvest one last time, he even pedals a bicycle back to his State-Thomas home.

Peking Duck. photography by Kevin Hunter Marple
photography by Kevin Hunter Marple

Peking Duck

(Serves 6)

 3 3- to 4-pound duck
 8 cups water
 1  slice ginger
 1  scallion, cut into halves
 3  tablespoons honey
 1  tablespoon white vinegar
 1  tablespoon sherry
 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch,
  dissolved in 3 tablespoons    water
  Scallions for garnish

Clean duck. Wipe dry and tie string around neck.
Hang duck in cool, windy place for 4 hours. (i.e. add a fan in the kitchen.)
Fill large wok with water. Bring to boil. Add ginger, scallion, honey, vinegar, and sherry. Bring to boil. Pour in dissolved cornstarch. Stir constantly.
Place duck in large strainer above larger bowl. Scoop boiling mixture all over duck for about 10 minutes.
Hang duck again in cool, windy place for 6 hours until thoroughly dry.
Place duck breast side up on a greased rack in oven preheated to 350 degrees. Set a pan filled with 2 inches of water in bottom of oven. (This is for drippings.) Roast 30 minutes.
Turn duck and roast 30 minutes more. Turn breast side up again. Roast 10 minutes more.


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