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: Well it depends on who you are. You know it’s like . . . It also shouldn’t be a stressful thing, you know? It’s like, you know, it could mean you take your family instead of, you know, to the Price Chopper, you take your family to the farmer’s market once a week. And things are more expensive there, so you do some . . . some intelligent shopping and you cook a little bit more at home. You know when you’re at the farmer’s market, you know, you ask the farmer, you know, how is this pork raised? And how is . . . What soil did this carrot grow in? And what kind of carrot is it? And maybe, you know, he has three different kinds of carrots that he’s growing. And you come back the next season and there’s different carrots again. And all this becomes educational and inspiring, and because of that more delicious. I mean I think that’s . . . that’s one point that sometimes gets lost in all this, is that as chefs one of the great assets that we have is these ...staff; these waiters to . . . and myself to tell stories about what we’re doing; where this food is coming from. You know without the story you lead to a lot of that disassociation you were talking about before. You know it’s the story that separates the small family farmer and even the big mid-sized family farmer from the big food chain. Because all along the big food chain – you know from seed, to farmer, to trucker, to distributor, to marketplace – price is the determining factor. But when you have a story from a small family farmer about a carrot, and about the soil it’s growing in, and what that farmer’s grandfather grew in that same soil – if you have a quick narrative like that, you have something that’s so unique and so infectious to people who want this kind of food. And it informs their appetite literally. Recorded on: 2/11/08