Dan Barber, renowned as the head of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, has been a key figure in the fine-dining scene in the United States. Now, he’s aiming to make a mark in the grocery-store produce section. Barber co-founded Row 7 Seed Company five years ago, and they’ve recently introduced their latest creation: Sweet Garleek. This unique vegetable, a cross between garlic and leek, is available at 25 Whole Foods locations in the New York area.
Sweet Garleek is a remarkable allium, measuring approximately 19 inches in length, with a slender white bulb and flat green stems. It’s described as being less pungent than regular garlic but with a delightful buttery flavor when cooked. Its taste is both grassy and sweet, making it a versatile ingredient suitable for sautéing, grilling, or consuming raw.
The development of Sweet Garleek was a meticulous process, with breeder Hans Bongers working for a decade to craft the ideal version of this allium. Row 7’s culinary director, Patch Troffer, collaborated with 150 farmers and chefs globally to assess how it grew and tasted. According to one of these farmers, Charlie Muzzarelli, Sweet Garleek grows more rapidly than leeks and can be planted and harvested multiple times a year, unlike green garlic.
While the vegetable has made its debut in the New York region, plans are in place to expand to the West Coast and the mid-Atlantic before a nationwide rollout in 2024. Initial sales trends look promising, with Sweet Garleek achieving an impressive 82 percent sell-through rate during its three weeks at Whole Foods stores.
Barber’s new creation has garnered intrigue and excitement from customers, with one describing it as akin to a “great-aunt to the onion” – a quirky yet delightful addition to the culinary world.