Home Cook Hall of Fame: Dan Barber

Dan Barber - temp stand inWe consider cooking the best method of doing dinner, because homemade food tastes best, is good for you, and brings you together with people, from family and friends to the artisans who melted your ghee. You already know that.

But we hardly came to this conclusion on our own: home cooking has a long history. To catch you up, we’ll be sharing the (abridged) stories of those home-cooking heros, the chefs and reporters and cookbook authors and bloggers whose work has helped make us–and you–feel at home in the kitchen.

Today, meet Dan Barber.

Who He Is

The co-owner and executive chef at Blue Hill restaurant in New York City and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, a working farm and sustainable agricultural center in Tarrytown, NY, Barber is a thought leader in conversations about food, agricultural policy, and the connection between sustainable farming and the delicious breakfast, lunches, and dinners we like to cook and eat. He’s also the author of 2014′s acclaimed book, The Third Plate.

His Story

“The truth is, I was trying to make money out of college,” says Barber when  asked how and why he came to cooking. “But I kept going.” He moved to France to train seriously for a year, figuring he’d see if the culinary career would stick under that kind of intensity. It did. He thrived abroad, then kept on cooking when he returned to the U.S. Now, at his  restaurants, he hopes to serve “the kind of dinner that is memorable and inspiring – so inspiring that you want to replicate a part of it in your own home.”

Why Cooking Matters

“Cooking doesn’t just matter,” he says. “It’s everything. You can have all these strong views about global climate change, about soil health, about water usage, about animal cruelty, in between and beyond that. If you’re not opting out of a food system that prepares your food for you, you’re not making a dent in the things you believe in.”

“There are certain companies – like yours and mine – that do things differently. But they’re few and far between.”

Who He Hangs With

His cooks at the restaurant. “They’re a source of great ideas,” he says. “They’re really amazing.”

Takeaways

Cooking, says Barber, “is a strong act. That’s a big act. It’s under-appreciated. It’s an increasingly novel act. It’s a revolutionary act. For the most part it means the food is probably more delicious, and you’re probably sourcing better ingredients…and it generally means a healthier meal and a healthier environment. You can’t have a delicious carrot without good soil, crop rotation, and without good decisions made by a farmer.”

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