Portland Chefs Accused of Foraging Ingredients in People’s Yards

Snipping some garnish for the evening's specials.
Snipping some garnish for the evening’s specials. Photo: Stuart Freedman/Corbis

“Hide your dock, hide your mallow. No herb is safe.” Or so says Martin Connolly, the manager of a Portland, Oregon, apartment complex, who claims local chefs are regularly sneaking into his fenced-in yard and stealing weeds, no doubt destined for the carefully tweezed plates of neighboring restaurants. “If you live in Portland,” Connolly says, “you have to know what comes with the neighborhood, and in this case, it’s bands of sous-chefs.”

This is apparently not a joke: Foraging thieves have left evidence in the form of beard nets and recipe notes, and one hapless chef even got stuck on the fence while trying to make off with a bag of chicory. Connelly notes that the presence of interlopers “sometimes smells like brisket,” and at this point, he can probably catch a whiff of stained apron before the offending sous-chef even nears his block. He won’t call the police, but vows to hunt down pesky cooks as if they were any other kind of pest: “In some neighborhoods there’s coyotes, some have skunks,” he says. “Here, it’s just sous-chefs and all the things that come with that.”

‘No herb is safe’ from weed-stealing sous-chefs, says apt. manager

Portland Chefs Accused of Foraging Ingredients in People’s Yards