In the Garden with Becky Satterfield

Located just a short drive from her eponymous restaurants in Cahaba Heights, Chef Becky Satterfield’s garden inspires her creative energies.

Becky’s garden includes a variety of plants that attract butterflies, birds, and honeybees. In fact, the hummingbirds that frequent her garden are the inspiration for El ZunZún, the traditional Mexican restaurant she opened in Cahaba Heights. Zunzún is the Spanish word for hummingbird. Photos by Jean Allsopp

Garlic is not an unusual scent to encounter in a chef’s kitchen, but in Becky Satterfield’s garden, the minced cloves aren’t going into a salsa or marinade. Scads of them are steeping in hot water to make garlic tea that Becky will use to organically combat the Japanese beetles trying to lay waste to her beloved roses.

Becky is a stickler for how her garden is maintained, keeping it free of pesticides and chemicals. She is equally passionate about pollinators and makes a point to plant species that butterflies, honeybees, and birds are naturally attracted to—a giant towering trumpet vine, butterfly bushes, milkweed, zinnias, fennel, and sunflowers. Part ornamental and part filled with produce, her backyard seems to literally hum with activity.

In the vegetable garden, Becky starts almost everything from seed (heirloom varieties, if possible) in the most fantastic setup in her garage, with grow lights on timers and calibrated ventilation and fans to build strong stems. Early growth specimens are transplanted to an outdoor sheltered spot with good light so they may acclimate before going into the ground.

A smaller chef’s garden filled with fresh herbs offers the perfect garnishes for a piece of grilled fish or skewered kabobs. This is a garden that has grown over time as new plants are installed and others are culled. Here and there, Becky has let some varieties go to seed to replenish themselves while allowing others to be nibbled on by visiting creatures (rabbits more likely than beetles).

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No matter what is in season, it’s all fodder for her restaurants, Satterfield’s and El ZunZún. Working with two very different types of menus, Becky finds plenty of reasons to plant, grow, pick, and experiment for fabulous dining (in-house or takeout).

Sunset in Tulum

Try your hand at re-creating this favorite cocktail from El ZunZún. Serves one but is easily doubled.

1.5 ounces Mezcal
1.5 ounces freshly squeezed blood orange juice
½ ounce Ancho Chile Reyes
½ ounce fresh lime juice
½ ounce agave
2 dashes orange bitters

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with a scoop of ice. Shake and strain into the colorful tumbler of your choice over a large cube of ice. Garnish with a wedge of fresh orange.

Satterfield’s, 205.969.9690, satterfieldsrestaurant.com
El ZunZún, 205.791.7711, el-zunzun.com

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