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Rico's New Garden Lunch Is Full of Taste and Knowledge

Chef Ken Arneson of Rico's American Grill at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak created a garden and started composting green waste via Singh Farms upon his arrive three years ago. The restaurant's patio has a large garden and it serves as inspiration and educational backdrop for the Garden Lunch Series happening Wednesdays, starting October 9.

Chow Bella got a sneak peek (and taste) this week. Here's what you can expect.

See also: Hip Veggies: Phoenix Artists Design Reusable Canvas Grocery Bags to Benefit Local Foodbanks.

The menu is a tad adventurous, delicious and will actually convince you of new uses for common herbs. We know farm-to-table is especially hot right now, but Chef Ken takes his calling seriously, commonly walks guests through the garden and sits upon an old tree stump (he insisted it be cut down to make way for the garden) while explaining the concepts behind the menu and cooking and gardening tips.

Raised in Hawaii, Chef Ken related that he was likely 12 before he saw an actual grocery store. And, he prefers it that way. He loves having kids in the garden to get their hands dirty and sample the produce. He also likes to experiment with common herbs; putting new flavor profiles together and using food to help the body run efficiently. He's passionate about organic and locally grown produce and sustainability. He brags that even if the hotel has a dinner for 1,000, he can garnish every dessert with mint grown on property. The garden contains a variety of herbs and produce all of which make their way into a surprising menu that would make a satisfying dinner, but makes an especially well-rounded lunch. It's even fairly good for you. Sorry we kept you waiting, here is the menu:

Starter: Grilled asparagus with fresh mozzarella and herb oil

1st course: Tomato Quinoa Salad topped Arizona citrus, garden herbs and plum tomatoes

2nd course: Torn Noodle Soup with Thai Essence featuring basil, lemon grass and egg noodle. Served with a "shot" of almond milk, tahitian vanilla bean chai tea and slivered jalapeño.

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3rd course: Risotto Stuffed Swiss Chard featuring chili marinated shrimp, orzo rice and chimichurri sauce

Dessert: Peach and Basil Shortcake incorporating garden lavender and verbena stewed peaches

Garden Lunches at Rico's American Grill are available for $25 per person, with a limit of 20 guests per lunch. Reservations are required and can be made by calling Rico's American Grill at 602-997-5850.

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