Califonia Bountiful

Vegetable and herb form a perfect pair

Tomatoes and basil are a match made in culinary heaven.

Tomatoes and basil are a match made in culinary heaven. The vegetable and the herb are on center stage in restaurants all over California, and are the breadwinners for an innovative family farm in Sutter County.

Tom and Dave Jopson run Jopson Family Garden in Rio Oso, where they have 30,000 square feet of greenhouse tomatoes and basil. The Jopsons are able to market their crops to Northern California supermarkets virtually year round.

Accessing the best quality produce helps ensure success for chefs, including Pascal Olhats, chef/owner of Cafe Jardin at Sherman Gardens in Orange County. Olhats has long treated his customers to many dishes featuring tomatoes and basil, including a soup that's among his most popular offerings.

He said cultivating strong relationships with quality-conscious farmers is critical to his success.

"You just tell them what you want and they'll do it for you, which is beautiful," Olhats said. "They put a lot of passion into their growing of produce, especially in the quality. They would never give you something that in unsuitable to your plate. I think the relationship between farmers, chefs and supermarkets is amazing. I love it!"

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