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Q & A: Dan Barber



May 18, 2009


Dan Barber

Dan Barber, who took home this year's Beard Award for Outstanding Chef (his third medal in three years), is clearly no stranger to the JBF Awards: last year he co-chaired the event, when the theme was "Artisanal America." Back then we spoke to the ambitious chef about a huge hog, how lucky Northeasterners have it, and his appreciation for artisanal products. Below is the interview in full. James Beard Foundation: What would you eat for your last meal on earth? Dan Barber: It would have to be Boris, a 900-pound boar from Stone Barns, who was slaughtered last February. I've never seen fat marbling like that before. JBF: What's your earliest food memory? DB: My aunt's scrambled eggs—whisked over a double boiler and finished with pounds of butter and herbs. I remember how they slid down my throat. JBF: What's your favorite regional ingredient? DB: I hear a lot of complaints about farming in the Northeast, but the cold weather is perfect for root vegetables. In fall, the plants convert their starches to sugars in order to survive, so we get the sweetest possible carrots and turnips. JBF: What life lessons have you learned in the kitchen? DB: Discipline, discipline, discipline. The chef's I've worked under were all completely exacting. JBF: Why do you support local, artisanal producers? DB: Their food provides a story better than any seasoning I could provide. JBF: What artisanal product do you wish existed but doesn't yet (or is difficult to find)? DB: Foie gras without gavage. (Since we spoke with chef Barber it seems he's taken matters into his own hands—he recently revealed that Stone Barns is now producing its own humane foie gras.)

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