Dan Barber:: Can other restaurants feasibly emulate the farm-to-table method?

Author and Chef
You don't have to be a Rockefeller to admire peasant ideals.
  • Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

Dan Barber: No I’ve had huge advantages. I’m not shy about admitting it. I am like the most . . . I am the luckiest guy alive, you know, to have the support of the Rockefellers and everyone who is around the Rockefellers believing in my brother and myself and what we talked about, and giving us support left and right, etc. So yes – very lucky and very fortunate. So here is my defense. My defense is like you don’t have to be a Rockefeller to believe in the kind of peasant ideals really that we’re talking about; which is, you know, sustainability, and pleasure, and good food. And you know people look at Stone Barns and they say, you know, there’s this ideal. There’s this high-end restaurant. There’s this idyllic farm. There’s an education center that’s saying oh, we can all be this way, and that’s not true. But in fact the principles that underpin those three . . . If it’s a three-legged ... – the farm, the restaurant, and the education center – the principles that underlie them are really very straightforward. It’s about . . . It’s about, you know, a chef and a farmer – in this case a couple of farmers – that are deeply connected in creating a menu, and an education center that’s talking about it. So you know if we were in, I don’t know, Wichita, Kansas, you could have a chef who has a daughter who is in the public school system, and you want the daughter to eat better at lunch, you know? So you contact with the rancher, and you say look. Instead of shipping off all your cattle to your confinement operation, you know when there are certain aids, like let’s finish them just on grass. And I’ll buy for my restaurant all the steaks, and (01:04:00) we’ll make an arrangement with the school. Let’s go together with the school, and we’ll make an arrangement with the school to buy all the chopped meat, all the hamburger meat, and therefore introduce it into grass fed hamburger meat for my daughter’s lunch program, right? And so they do that and they do a couple of .... The principal of the school loves the idea. And instead of just making a contract for the hamburger meat, which he does, he also involves it in this partnership and this animal – this grass fed animal into the biology course, and into the social studies course, and even into the history course, and even into the mathematics course. Because figuring out how to break up a steer, and make money, and do all that stuff; you know and the history of ruminance – eating actually grass and how different that is – all of a sudden you have in that scenario the same thing as Stone Barns. You have a chef, you have a farmer, and you have a school entity . . . a public facility, you know, that is teaching the next generation about food and where food comes form. You know it’s not Rockefeller style. It’s not in Westchester County, but Blue Hill and the Stone Barns Center for Food Agriculture would . . . would look quite different if it was in South Dakota, as it would in Wichita, Kansas, as it would in Texas, as it would in Berkeley. And we are what we are for 630 Bedford Road in Tarrytown. And it can be interpreted – the ideals of it, this connection – knowing more about where your food comes from and having a facility – something that tells that story is a great and very strong collaboration. I think it could be replicated anywhere in the world, and I believe strongly in that. Recorded on: 2/11/08