by Ian McNulty
The mason jars full of garden-fresh soups from the nonprofit Vintage Garden Kitchen have been making the rounds in New Orleans for years, with fans of this unique culinary and social enterprise picking them up from a Metairie production kitchen, ordering them for delivery or, more recently, finding them at farmers markets.
Later this month, they should also be available from a new lunch spot taking shape in the CBD.
Vintage Garden Kitchen is part of Arc Enterprises, a program of Arc of New Orleans that creates jobs and builds independence for people with mental disabilities. From Arc headquarters in Metairie, chef Leo Tandecki and his crew prepare a roster of some two dozen seasonal soups and other foods throughout the year, often using produce harvested from the group’s own gardens or sourced from farmers markets.
The group is now finishing the build-out for its new cafe in the food court at the Place St. Charles building at 201 St. Charles Ave., which they hope to open later in January. In addition to soups, the restaurant will serve salads, wraps and fresh bread.
Eventually the Vintage Garden Kitchen restaurant will add breakfast, and Tandecki says they will also add delivery to other CBD addresses in the future.
“It’s a small space, but we want to maximize our presence and not be confined to a three-hour lunch window,” he says.
The menu will also include fresh juices and Italian-style sodas made at the café using more fresh produce.
“They’ll still have simple syrup in them, but maybe we can start weaning people off ordinary sodas,” he says.
As before, customers can still pick up soups directly at Arc headquarters, and Vintage Garden Kitchen delivers soups on Wednesdays to addresses in a set of zip codes stretching from Metairie to Uptown and Lakeview. Vintage Garden Kitchen also sells soups and salads, plus produce and flowers from its gardens, at the Tuesday and Thursday editions of the Crescent City Farmers Markets, held Uptown and in Mid-City respectively.
Vintage Garden Kitchen
925 S. Labarre Rd., Metairie, 504-620-2495