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: It's a good question, and it's a little bit about our history. You know we've become so disassociated with agriculture both with the culture of agriculture and with agriculture itself. We are one generation, and in some cases two generations removed from that. And as you get more and more removed from how food is grown; who is . . . whos growing it; where its coming from; how its getting to you, the easier it is to be completely disassociated from the decisions about all those things. So I think part of my job and part of the job of Stone Barns is to say hey wait a minute. This is part of the pleasures of living, and these are decisions that are being made every day by farmers all around the country and all around the world. And we need to buy into this thing. So as an eater you have a kind of responsibility. And for some people like chefs I think its a greater responsibility. And for other people like eaters its just . . . its an everyday thought process to put your money where your mouth is, and to understand that youre voting . . . Look were in a political season. We vote every . . . once every four years, and so many people get frustrated that their vote really has no say and dah, dah, dah. Well this is an opportunity three times a day to vote with your fork and to make a huge impact on how people think about supporting food, and how food is grown. And that . . . That seems to me to be a very positive message, and its a . . . Its one that could lead, again, with . . . with the flavor; with the potential for real pleasure. And I think people are turned onto that and excited by that, and were just . . . Were just starting to feel this wave of interest which hopefully will translate into things like new political realities that I talked about. Recorded on: 2/11/08