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

PORTLAND, Ore. - This story could be right out of an episode of "Portlandia."

The apartment manager of a Southeast Portland apartment complex says he can't get employees from local restaurants to stop climbing his fence and picking wild weeds from his property.

Martin Connolly thinks random weeds and plants are going into dishes at nice restaurants because he lives around plenty of trendy restaurants at Southeast 16th and Hawthorne.

"If you live in Portland, you have to know what comes with the neighborhood, and in this case, it's bands of sous-chefs," says Connolly.

Around the back of the apartment building he manages is a fenced-in alley that is filled with wild weeds and greens, apparently ripe for the taking.

"In some neighborhoods there's coyotes, some have skunks - here, it's just sous-chefs and all the things that come with that," Connolly says.

He's seen them in the area before and has picked up their leftovers.

"You can always tell they've been here: There's beard nets. I found this recipe lying back here the other day," he says.

Connolly says he can even recognize their scent: "Sometimes smells like brisket."

And his neighbor spotted one stuck on the fence Friday.

"Had a bag of what was probably chicory leaves," Connolly says.

He's left messages for a few places trying to tell them to stop, but he hasn't heard back. Now, he's putting up signs and getting ready with his own camera in case sous-chefs keep coming around.

He doesn't want to call police, because it feels too silly. But he does want it to stop. But until then, Connolly had this advice: "Hide your dock, hide your mallow. No herb is safe."

A reporter went to a few nearby restaurants and asked about this but no employees said they were responsible.