More than half our respondents said that in summer, they're most desperate for tomato recipes; 24 percent want zucchini ideas; and 11 percent are in search of some new ways to use eggplant. Just in time, the Culinary Vegetable Institute opens this summer in Milan, Ohio, about 50 miles from Cleveland.
An offshoot of the Chef's Garden, which has been supplying specialty produce to chefs nationwide for 15 years, the CVI offers seminars, cooking demos and hands-on classes using the heirloom and unusual vegetables and herbs grown on the 100-acre property. Popcorn shoots, baby purple cauliflower, borage blossoms, miniature white eggplants, gold zucchini and three kinds of lavender are just a few of the exotic varieties that have attracted chefs like Thomas Keller, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Charlie Trotter (all are members of the CVI's advisory board).
Next month, as tomato season reaches its peak, the CVI will host a Tomato Weekend. Students will taste more than 25 tomato varieties straight from the vine, and chefs Rick Tramonto and Gale Gand of Chicago's Tru will prepare a multicourse tomato-themed dinner, with dishes like goat cheesetomato terrine and even tomato ice cream. (419-499-7500).