The Next Order: Trends Ahead

Grow Your Own

Jan 1, 2005
Outside Magazine
Chef Dan Barber

Organically grown radishes; Chef Dan Barber and crew prepare to harvest tomatoes    Photo: Ken Kochey

food guide

"Wait, can't we talk about this?" A Stone Barns chicken on its way to the broiler

DAN BARBER WANTS TO KNOW what the pork he's eating for dinner ate before his pork, you know... became dinner. And he thinks you should know, too. So last May, the 35-year-old chef, whose Blue Hill restaurant, in Greenwich Village, brings seasonal, unique food to the city, took his fresh-'n'-local food philosophy one step further: He reversed the farm-to-restaurant cycle altogether. Blue Hill at Stone Barns, a cozy, Provençal-style eatery at the center of the 80-acre Stone Barns Food and Agricultural Complex, in Pocantico Hills, New York, serves dishes like chicken roulade with red ace beets and Crescent duck with a stew of Napoli carrots to well-heeled locals and urbanites who, judging by the monthlong wait for a dinner reservation, are happy to make the 30-mile trip from Manhattan for a good meal and a lesson in sustainable agriculture. At least half of the food Barber serves is grown on the premises: The Stone Barns team, backed by a $30 million investment from community-farming advocate David Rockefeller, raises fruits, vegetables, herbs, and a coterie of free-roaming livestock. (The Berkshire pigs root and snort around in the woods the way their wild ancestors did in Europe.) When diners are finished, meal scraps are toted to compost piles, where the cycle of life begins again under the pitchfork of head farmer Jack Algiere. "I feed Jack and Jack feeds me," says Barber, who hopes people will leave his restaurant not just full but enlightened. "Stone Barns provides an opportunity to discuss issues like the power of food choice, and to draw people's attention to the land around them. Our goal is to provide a consciousness of how decisions you make buying food have an effect on the world you live in."

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