Christine Ryan

Cooks, of course, have very definite opinions about flavor. But the chefs that Lane Selman knew, including such Portland stars as Jason “Ned Ludd” French, never dreamed that they could help retool the fruits and vegetables that farmers were growing.

Meanwhile, the seed breeders she knew, like Frank Morton (above left, with Selman) were working in a culinary-feedback vacuum. Selman, a researcher in organic agriculture at Oregon State University, decided it was time to make some introductions. This spring, thanks to her Culinary Breeding Network, the first crop of chef-driven cultivars comes to a seed catalog near you. One of Selman’s picks: Stocky Red Roaster peppers, bred by Morton for Wild Garden Seed in Philomath, Oregon.

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