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The Chef's Table uses fresh herbs and produce from its hydroponic garden

Plants grow in water with nutrients added, no dirt required

KNOXVILLE, Tenn — The Chef's Table grew into a restaurant from a catering business.

It features traditional American food and some ethnic dishes for breakfast and lunch.

Owner Jacob Fierley emphasizes fresh.

"All of our dressings we make in house. Then we also have herbs in our dishes. So rather than constantly having to procure those we decided to build the hydroponic gardens out in front of our restaurant," he said. 

A hydroponic garden has no dirt. 

"We do add some nutrients to the water which helps plants thrive a little bit. But for the most part it is a self sustained, self contained, garden with no dirt," he said. "I've heard of people harvesting for up to three to four years off of one plant. So it's just a great bountiful harvest and it's a healthier plant typically as well." 

Credit: Jaime Fierley
The hydroponic garden at The Chef's Garden is right by the front door

It's convenient. The hydroponic garden is right by the front door of The Chef's Table.

"Most people walk in and they start looking around for a table and they look at that and they get distracted and then stand there for a minute," he said. 

Credit: WBIR
Jacob Fierley owns The Chef's Table in West Knoxville

Jacob can grow produce and herbs all year. 

"We go out there a couple times a week and harvest and pull whatever we need."

What they need goes directly into the food. 

Credit: Jaime Fierley
Plants and herbs grow in water with added nutrients

"The flavor is better because herbs, the big thing about herbs is they can take oils and as they sit those oils dry out and they break down. So the flavor changes a little bit but also just gets weaker," he said. "We go out there and pick and our hands just smell like basil for the next 10 minutes because you've got those oils and things on your fingers."

He has told regular customers they are welcome to take home some fresh herbs but so far nobody has taken him up on the offer.