We think that you are in United States and that you would prefer to view Bookwitty in English.
We will display prices in United States Dollar (USD).
Have a cookie!
Bookwitty uses cookies to personalize content and make the site easier to use. We also share some information with third parties to gather statistics about visits.

Are you Witty?

Sign in or register to share your ideas

Sign In Register

Dan Barber: Rags and riches. Can the two coexist?

Emily By Emily Published on January 7, 2016

Found this article relevant?

When I fell in love with Dan Barber's way of cooking it was when 'Rotation Risotto' appeared on his menu.

Award winning chef of Blue Hill in Manhattan and Blue Hill at Stone Barns and among the 100 most influential men in the world according to Times Magazine in 2009, Barber concentrates on flavor and relies on sustainable and ethical farming techniques to fulfil an ever changing menu according to what the farm yields.

It was not the first time I had heard of feeding chicken red peppers to make the yolk red. My husband's Russian grandfather did the same until he was 95 and it was often just because that was what he had to feed the chickens. However, Barber consciously created this colour and taste and unlike our beloved Russian farmer, Barber made it trendy and makes a small fortune from it.

Https%3a%2f%2fs3.amazonaws.com%2fuploads.bookwitty.com%2ff9b78312 3725 4c01 a1a7 a9acb9bf3b5f inline original.jpeg?ixlib=rails 2.1

Once I explain the concept of 'Rotation Risotto' it will clarify Barber's approach which is a beautiful but quite a paradoxical mix of organic, ethical and basic farming techniques with gastronomy and wealth. Do the two go together? How do the rags and riches coexist? 

Having grown up on Blue Hill Farm in New York State, Barber continues to work with and rely on farmed produce. One particular organic farmer, from whom Barber buys wheat, plants crops such as buckwheat, barley and millet as rotation crops in order to keep the soil fertile, healthy and pest free. These rotation crops do not sell well and usually end up in bags for animal feed. Barber, concerned for the waste and total negligence given to these potentially tasty grains, took them and created a recipe using them called 'Rotation Risotto'. Otherwise a loss for the farmer, these crops were used and generated a supplementary income.

Https%3a%2f%2fs3.amazonaws.com%2fuploads.bookwitty.com%2f1ad34f0a 4250 4e29 bfc7 106618acc62b inline original.jpeg?ixlib=rails 2.1

Barber also engineered a way to optimize dairy farming and at the same time veal consumption. More than half of the calves born on any given farm are females which means the male counterpart are essentially useless for milk production. On conventional farms these calves are taken away from their mother almost immediately and bred, often in bad conditions, for veal (and not a particularly tasty one). Barber, being a more ethical farmer and of course greatly concerned with taste and quality, worked with a dairy farm so that the male calves stayed with their mother drinking her milk and were reared on the farm. Obviously, they ended up as veal but at least their short life was a happier one. This veal, according to Barber, is in a different world taste wise and helped diversify and sustain the farmers livelihood. 

These are just two examples of how Barber and his team at Blue Hill take the rags (surplus grain and unwanted farm animals and convert them into riches (gastronomic dishes). At $88 - 98 a menu, Barber definitely makes a good living on converting wholesome raw materials into expensive, minimalist but famously mouth-watering dishes

Https%3a%2f%2fs3.amazonaws.com%2fuploads.bookwitty.com%2f8ebd05c3 0803 4830 bf99 5d49ca4e9d45 inline original.jpeg?ixlib=rails 2.1

Can we berate Barber for this? Is a piece of bread the size of a biscuit really worth the money and effort involved? Some will say no and some will say yes. It is much the same as some people prefer organic over non-organic produce. If the ethical values override the cost then it will sell. 

Barber has created a market for great tasting food through ecological and sustainable farming. The proof is in the pudding and for as long as his two restaurants remain popular, his concept is a success and proves that rags and riches can coexist. 

With 10 years in the publishing industry and 35 years of enjoying all types of books, I can safely say that I am a certified book lover. Language, linguistics and education is the domain I am ... Show More

Found this article relevant?

0 Comments

Please log in or sign up to join the discussion

0 Related Posts

Know what people should read next?