Chicago native, Sara Gasbarra, is the founder and “lead garden girl” of Verdura, a full service garden design company that cultivates culinary gardens for chefs, restaurants and hotels including Palmer House Hilton, Smyth & The Loyalist, Elske and Floriole Cafe and Bakery in Chicago and The Catbird Seat and Nicky's Coal Fired in Nashville.
She specializes in creating a season-long garden plan specifically tailored to the needs of a restaurant kitchen, sourcing unique and rare varieties of plants and vegetables, organic growing practices, custom designed irrigation systems and urban farming in unconventional spaces.
Her kitchen production plots have been featured in several publications including Saveur, FEED, Chef's Roll, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine, Tasting Table, Crain’s Chicago Business and Gardenista.
Sara was featured in New City's "The Big Heat: Chicago's Food & Drink 50 2013" and by Zagat in "The 11 Chicago Food Specialists You Need to Know."
In addition, Sara has provided in depth garden expertise for and lead interactive workshops with The Culinary Institute of American, P. Allen Smith, Taste Talks, IDEO, Google, Chicago Ideas Week, DIFFA "Dining By Design" and Soho House.
In 2010, Sara founded an auxiliary board for Green City Market, Chicago’s largest, year-round farmer’s market, serving as its chairman for four years and launched her green career as the Project Manager of the market’s "The Edible Gardens", the city’s premiere 5,000 sq. ft. educational vegetable garden run in partnership with Lincoln Park Zoo.
She currently serves as Vice President for Slow Food Chicago's Board of Directors.
Her inspiration for cultivating edible green spaces for her chef clientele is drawn directly from childhood memories of summers spent gardening and cooking with her Italian-born father. Sara's favorite edibles to grow for her restaurant clients include Hojiso shiso, Lady Bird nasturtium, Parisian Market carrots, sungold tomatoes, heirloom French harlequin and tangerine gem marigolds, Siam Queen basil and wood sorrels in every color.