Royal York Hotel Toronto with roof garden

Toronto Harbor Center

The Royal York Hotel Toronto with roof garden

Beds filled with zucchini, sage, rosemary, lavender, blooming nasturtium, aubergines, wild strawberries and other fresh ingredients that make every chef's heart beat faster are right in the center of Toronto - on the rooftop garden of the Royal York Hotel Toronto Luxury hotel belonging to the Fairmont Hotels. Hundreds of bees buzz around among the herbs and vegetables. These have also found a home on the roof of the hotel and are now busy producing fresh honey, which is served in the hotel's fine restaurants.

David Garcelon in the roof garden of the Royal York Hotel in Toronto
David Garcelon in the roof garden of the Royal York Hotel Toronto

Sustainability is a top priority at the Royal York Hotel Toronto

Chef David Garcelon takes the principles of environmentally friendly business very seriously. In 1996, the traditional luxury hotel in the center of Toronto set up an in-house herb garden on the roof of the hotel amidst high-rise buildings and just a few hundred meters from the CN Tower. David Garcelon says: "You can't find a closer supplier than your own roof," and he points to the six beehives lined up on the edge of the roof. “Our bee colonies provide excellent honey for our guests. And they also help to fulfill the hotel's ecological obligation. ”


In the roof garden of the Royal York Hotel in Toronto
In the roof garden of the Royal York Hotel Toronto


Vegetables, berries, herbs, honey and spices from the herb garden at Fairmont Royal York

In specially made wooden boxes are the beds, in which fresh and exotic herbs, vegetables and berries are planted, some of which are otherwise not available in Canada. These include tiny, but sweet-tasting wild strawberries or lavender flowers that are used to decorate desserts. David Garcelon produces lavender sugar by placing the strongly fragrant flowers in bowls of granulated sugar, which after a while give it a fine lavender flavor.

It is the job of the hotel's chefs to take care of the beds. "We can often harvest fresh herbs and vegetables from our garden until the end of October," says David Garcelon, who makes an impressive impression with his chef's hat against the backdrop of the CN Tower in the background. It is an unusual sight, this vegetable and herb garden framed by the skyscrapers of the Royal Bank and other glass palaces in downtown Toronto.

Chef David Garcelon and his crew conjure sensational salads from these ingredients: a vinaigrette with fresh herbs or delicious fruit salads with edible flowers are served to guests. Lemon weed, edible pansy and red basil are just some of the plants that grow in the 17 wood beds of the Royal York Hotel.

David Garcelon also respects ecological principles when planting plants: these are fertilized with fresh sheep dung. The cook's offspring of the hotel must help with the rearing of the plants vigorously. The young apprentices take over the weeding as well as the planting of new varieties. And they come every day to the roof garden to water the plants and harvest their fruits. In this way, the herbs grow lusciously and are available to the hotel kitchen throughout the summer season.


Beehives in the roof garden of the Royal York Hotel in Toronto
Beehives in the roof garden of the Royal York Hotel in Toronto


Six bee colonies produce the honey at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto

In order to naturally pollinate his plants, David Garcelon 2008 has brought three queen bees and his bees on his roof. They live in hives bearing names like the Honey Moon Suite, the Royal Sweet and the VI Bee Suite. 2009 was joined by three other bee colonies who have since lived in the Bee Bee Suite, the Stay-in-a-Hive Suite and the Comb Suite Comb.

They thank the chef for buzzing over the herb and vegetable beds and pollinating the young plants, as well as taking advantage of the lush parks surrounding the hotel, the Don River Valley, and the offshore islands off Toronto with their large green spaces to collect nectar there. The self-produced honey is collected and served at the breakfast buffet in the Epic Restaurant or served to guests at the a la carte breakfast in the glass bowl.

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Photos © Copyright Monika and Petar Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline
Text: © Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline

Royal York Hotel Toronto with roof garden
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