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Chefs tickled by prospect of fresh produce by the Pru

March 8, 2009
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Gucci, Lacoste, Saks Fifth Avenue - and tomatoes?

This summer, Prudential Center shoppers, tourists, and neighbors could be picking up their evening's dinner just steps from the mall.

Dave Gilson, owner of the Herb Lyceum at Gilson's restaurant in Groton, is working with owner Boston Properties to open a farmers' market on the building's cement plaza bordering Boylston Street.

The market, which would run on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., would be directly managed by 14 vendors, including six to eight farmers. Vendors who have signed on to the project sell products like Asian greens, mozzarella cheese, chocolates, bread, baked goods, and high-end desserts.

It has also sparked interest from Legal Seafoods, whose Prudential Center executive chef, Kevin Watson, has committed to buying fresh foods from the market to use in his cooking, Gilson said. Chefs from Sel De La Terre and L'Espalier have also expressed interest, he said.

"People are more conscious and conscientious about where their food comes from, where it had to travel," said Gilson, who hopes to get the Boylston Street market running by May 21. "The best tasting produce you can get is when it goes from its vine or soil to you in the shortest amount of time."

That's one reason why the market, which is still awaiting permission for parking in the area, would become one of nearly 200 markets in the state this year - including one Tuesdays and Fridays at Copley Square - up from 100 markets statewide in 2003, said Jeff Cole, executive director of the Federation of Massachusetts Farmers Markets, of which Gilson is a board member.

MAGGIE CASSIDY

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