Dan Barber is one of the most highly regarded chefs in the United States. Back in the late 1990s, his small Manhattan restaurant Blue Hill got lots of buzz for Dan’s innovative cooking.
But even while he was dazzling diners with his technique, Dan was already haunting Manhattan’s Union Square Greenmarket for ingredients, before many New York chefs bothered. He was also bringing in produce from his family’s farm in the Berkshires.
In 2004, Dan launched what must be any ingredient-obsessed chef’s dream — a restaurant on a beautifully run, diversified organic farm. Stone Barns, situated on 80 acres of Rockefeller family land just outside of New York City, produces a wide variety of vegetables and fruits, along with heritage-breed pigs, chickens, and more. It also holds all manner of community classes and events. Dan has kept his Manhattan outpost going even while making Blue Hill at Stone Barns a destination for food lovers.
Dan has also taken his interest in good food out of the kitchen and into the public sphere: He occasionally pens smart New York Times op-eds on farm policy.
In this video interview, I asked Dan what crop coming off the farm he was most excited about cooking right now. He mentioned that he hated to be away for a weekend during the tomato harvest. But his eyes really lit up when he remembered his discovery that sunflower chokes are great braised.