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 Park Hyatt Chicago, Cindy's Rooftop at Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, Palmer House Hilton and Floriole Cafe and Bakery in Chicago and Bastion, Henrietta Red 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, Eating Well, Rodale's Organic Life, FEED, Chef's Roll, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine, Tasting Table, Crain’s Chicago Business and Gardenista.
In 2018, Sara was honored by Chicago Woman magazine as one of Chicago's most influential women in food. She was also featured in New City's "The Big Heat: Chicago's Food & Drink 50" in both 2013 and 2017 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 America, P. Allen Smith, Taste Talks, Slow Food USA, 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 has also served 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 vegetables to grow for her restaurant clients include Hojiso shiso, Lady Bird nasturtium, African blue basil, Parisian Market carrots, Wild Boar Farms blue gold tomatoes, tangerine lace marigolds and aji amarillo chiles.