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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[…]

Barber overcompensated for his grandmothers bad cooking.

Dan Barber: You know I don’t . . . I mean my grandmother was a terrible cook, and my mother died when I was very young, and my father was a terrible cook. So I think, you know, I overcompensated a little bit for the cooking end of things. So I don’t know why . . . I don’t know what drove me to be a chef exactly. But the kind of chef that I’ve become I think was, you know, sort of unconsciously, you know, inculcated by this connection to land – especially like to my grandmother’s sense of responsibility, which was huge. It was like . . . It was like she . . . She very much believed in open space and in doing everything possible to preserve it. And that meant farming in the case of where Blue Hill was. I mean to preserve that pastureland you literally needed to pasture. And so you know there was a responsibility that came attached to the pleasure of the views, literally. And I think somehow I’ve connected that with food; and the idea to have those views and that open space, you’ve gotta eat it. So you know it’s chef and . . . You know it’s being a chef and providing pleasure by way of a kind of responsibility. That’s . . . that’s pleasurable in and of itself. I graduated and I was a little bit lost on what to do. And I went out and baked bread in California for a while, and kind of cooked on the side just to earn some money. And I thought actually maybe I’d write about . . . I thought I was gonna write about a bunch of things. But I ended up just earning extra money by cooking, and that led . . . One thing led to another, and I . . . You know I was always kind of undecided, I think, until I went to France. And then I was really cooking, and I was sort of . . . A light went off I think. Although it wasn’t an “Aha!” moment. It wasn’t one of those things. I just like . . . I’m still questioning things as we sit here now.

Recorded on: 2/11/08