DAN BARBER is the Chef of Blue Hill, a restaurant in Manhattan's West Village, and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, located within the nonprofit farm and education center, Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture. His opinions on food and agricultural policy have appeared in the New York Times, along with many other publications. Barber has received multiple James Beard awards including Best Chef: New York City (2006) and the country's Outstanding Chef (2009). In 2009 he was named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world.
To expand on his philosophy of cooking with sustainably grown, local ingredients, Dan has been working with such organizations as the Kellogg Foundation, Slow Food USA and Earth Pledge to minimize the political and intellectual rhetoric around agricultural policies and to instead maximize the appreciation of eating good food. Focusing on the issues of pleasure, taste and regional bounty-and how these imperatives are threatened-Dan helped create the philosophical and practical framework for Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture and continues to help guide it in its mission to create a consciousness about the effects of everyday food choices.
He is author of the book The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food.
Dan Barber: You know it’s hard to name. There’s a couple in California, but you know because . . . And I think that makes perfect sense because they’re closer to the land. You know this guy David Kinch in South of San Francisco’s restaurant ...; that when I talk to him and e-mail with him, he’s thinking about food in a way that I’d like to think more about food; which is starting with what’s . . . what he’s getting. Literally like everybody says that. “I go to the market; I pick out what I want, and I have a great dish.” Okay boom. It’s been done. But he’s really thinking about these relationships and growing a little bit of his own. But increasingly about relationships with farmers that’s informing his food. And what I like about a guy like David Kinch, again, is that, you know, he said this great line I think once that I read that he’s surrounded by the Berkeley aesthetic which is you get from the farm, you do nothing with the food. You grill it, and it’s like olive oil, and it’s . . . it’s the farmer on the .... It’s like okay. He’s saying, you know, if I get great ingredients, you the diner . . . you’re expecting me to do something with it, you know? And that’s what he’s doing intelligently. He’s got a great background of experiences about putting in your time. He, too, went to France and put in his time. And I think, you know, his sensibility is like . . . is very evolved. And the food, you know, is on its way to being some of the best in the country. But it’s being informed from farmers that are supplying him and he’s working directly with. I think that’s an exciting future, and I think he can have a lot of influence on the future of food.
Recorded on: 2/11/08