Sofitel Philadelphia's garden on the rooftop

PHILADELPHIA - July 20, 2013

Local restaurant veteran Jim Coleman just took he next step in that direction, straight up. The executive chef at Sofitel, 17th and Sansom, placed a garden on the hotel's roof.

He and his staff harvest fresh herbs most of the year and a number of fresh vegetables in summer. Why bother when you can pick up the phone and get so much fresh produce from a wholesaler? Chef Coleman says the answer is taste.

His garden in a series of containers provides him with an instantly-accessible source of many herbs. Their leaves are greener and their flavors are at peak when they're cooked into dishes minutes after being cut.

He's especially happy with his "crop" of chives. The chef told Action News that fresh chives are a unique resource for restoring nutrition cooking removes from food. So the garden does more than make food taste better.

Come summer, the roof offers a generous supply of tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and yellow squash. These, too, are more colorful and better-tasting than anything commercially available, as you know if you have a garden at home.

As the supervisor of a professional cooking staff, Chef Coleman says there's another benefit to having a garden at the hotel. He says people doing the cooking behave differently in the kitchen when handling produce they just picked upstairs.

He says they seem to take ownership of the process, and there's a difference on what hits the plate you receive in the dining room.

Sofitel Philadelphia, part of a French-owned international chain, is at 17th and Sansom Streets in Center City.

The house has restaurants open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner...all featuring the chef's fresh herbs as appropriate.

For information, access Sofitel Philadelphia or phone 215-569-8300.

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