Prior to opening Sel de la Terre in the spring of 2000, Chef Geoff Gardner spent eight years as the sous chef at Boston’s acclaimed L’Espalier restaurant, where he immersed himself in the teachings of his mentor, Chef and Proprietor Frank McClelland, who later became his business partner when opening his own restaurant.
A native New Englander whose ancestors originated from Europe, Gardner developed a love for cooking from his grandfather, who was an avid gardener and instilled in him a fascination with the variety and magnificence of food. After earning his bachelor’s degree from Boston University’s School of Restaurant Management, Gardner traveled extensively throughout France where he developed a passion for freshness and the highest quality of ingredients that are evident in his menus today. While he truly enjoyed the diversity of cuisine in each region of France, he always held the cuisine of Provence in high regard.
Additionally, the breads that Gardner sampled in France fueled an interest in the science of bread making, and while at L’Espalier, Gardner taught himself how to develop breads using organic grapes as a starter for natural yeast. The breads at L’Espalier became so popular with guests, that when creating the concept of Sel de la Terre, Gardner included a boulangerie and display areas to market his specialty breads, which are baked fresh daily and used throughout the restaurant. Sel de la Terre’s breads have since gained several accolades, including “Best Bakery, Bread” in Boston Magazine’s 2005 “Best of Boston” awards. Sel de la Terre has also been named one of the “Top 100 New Restaurants in the World” by Conde Nast Traveler, one of the "Top 22 New Restaurants in the Nation" by Esquire Magazine, and Gardner was awarded with the prestigious Rising Stars Award from StarChefs.com in 2006.
Gardner is equally devoted to his home garden, and provides the restaurant with fresh herbs from his extensive garden, to ensure that each and every ingredient being served to the customer is of the utmost freshness and purity. Gardners’s homegrown angelica, chocolate mint, lemon balm, and other herbs, many varieties of vegetables, and edible flowers lend themselves to a multitude of creative uses on the Provencal-inspired Sel de la Terre menu.