A short while ago I watched Netflix’ recently released documentary ‘Chef’s Table’ about six famous chefs and their life stories. It’s breath-taking beautiful. You don’t need to be a foodie to be moved by these people’s journeys. Each of them are compelling stories on perseverance, creativity and staying true to yourself. The episode featuring New York chef Dan Barber moved me the most. This is why.
Does the belly rule the mind? That’s what Barber is counting on as he wants to tell a story through the mouth-watering dishes he serves. With his New York gourmet restaurants Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns he has created an out-of-the-ordinary eating experience that teaches people on good food.
So what sets Barber and his restaurants aside from other world renowned fine dining? He has always been an advocate of the so-called ‘farm-to-table’ movement (buying local and in season) but wants to take it one step further. Because, he claims, it is still a damaging and non-sustainable way to farm or eat in the long run. Barber states that the only way to maintain a healthy and rich soil – a precondition for long term abundance of food – without the use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides is to change the system or ‘architecture’ of farming by implementing diversity and rotation of crops. Currently this is unattractive to most farmers as many of the crops that are needed to diversify are not high in demand. That’s why in the United States for example corn and soy account for more than 50% of all harvested acres.
Fine dining that provokes thoughts
Barber wants to create a market for the unpopular but soil-supporting crops and is setting an example in his New York gourmet restaurants Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns. “It’s all about working with nature instead of imposing our diets on nature and expecting nature will produce what we want”. This means you will find no menus at the Blue Hill restaurants. The close by farms supplying the kitchen dictate the meal. According to Barber this philosophy does not only realise sustainable agriculture and farming but also much better tasting and healthier food.
A Netflix must-see for everyone who wants to be inspired on good food but, like me, can’t afford a dinner at the Blue Hill just yet…