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In June I interviewed Dan Barber at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland about his superb new book The Third Plate. Barber is not only one of the country’s leading chefs, he’s one of the foremost thinkers and writers on the state of how we grow, distribute, cook, and eat food, which is quickly becoming one of the dominant conversations of our generation. He implored me to make the trip to Blue Hill at Stone Barns, comprising a high-end restaurant plus 80 acres of farmland and pasture and woods for growing and raising the plants and livestock he and his brigade serve at the restaurant. The following month, Donna and I drove up to Blue Hill to take him up on his offer (a full ten years since its opening), arriving early enough to talk with Read On »

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I was asked on Twitter what I thought of the latest movie on the chef world, really the first authentic movie on the work of professional cooking since Ratatouille (one of the best on the subject). So here comes a formidable writer, director, and marquee cast (Scarlett, Dustin, Robert {D. Jr.}, Sofia V., the compelling Bobby Cannavale, and writer/director/lead Jon Favreau) to try to tell a story and also get right what really hasn’t been done well in American film ever, animation excepted: the life of the chef. Spanglish, and No Reservations being two hopefuls that did not get it right. As a narrative, Chef is predictable (I’d seen the previews, all you need to know), almost tired, father-son road movie, guilty hard-working dad, cute kid, likable (ex) wife—worked for Elf, right? My writing mentor said, “No Read On »

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eat1retreat1

After my assistant, Emilia Juocys, returned from a food-related trip to California, I asked her how it was. I’d heard about Eat Retreat but didn’t have a clear sense of what it was. I said, “Why don’t you write a post about it.”Though what she sent me was considerably more personal than I’d anticipated, it also underscored what we all recognize: the power of food to connect us to one another. —M.R. By Emilia Juocys With all of the changes I have experienced in the last 12 months I needed to do something different and meet some new people, especially in the culinary world. Chicago had been great to me but I left in the fall to return home because I was getting divorced after nine years of marriage. Never expected it, but life happens, people change, and the Read On »

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Michael's-whole-grain-bread

I was thrilled by Kim Severson’s piece on the gluten-free trend because it points a light, yet again, on … but god, aren’t there enough klieg lights on American’s stupidity, gullibility, and laziness already? And yet even Severson herself quotes a chef, thereby giving the piece its own kind of reporter’s credibility, saying that the gluten-free fad is here to stay. This, despite noting that only 1% of the population is actually badly affected by gluten, and that there is scant evidence that there’s anything wrong with this wonderful protein combination. A grocer I know said he didn’t know if it was a good or a bad thing, the gluten-free fad, but he was loving the hell out of it. If Americans’ lack of self-awareness, or even awareness generally, weren’t already on painful display almost everywhere, Read On »

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I had the great good fortune to interview Dan Barber before a sold-out crowd at Cleveland’s MOCA last night, talking to him about his fine book, The Third Plate (NYTimes review here). Barber, chef and owner of New York’s Blue Hill restaurant and maestro of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, is the most vocal and articulate chef soap-boxing for a sustainable food future. The problem has long been that, while he’s been very good at articulating the problems, he’s never had a realistic solution. Americans can’t completely opt out of the industrial food system by relying exclusively on CSAs and farmers’ markets (much as we cherish them). And chefs must cherry-pick the best ingredients if they are to keep their restaurants filled. Until this book, that is. Barber, through excellent reporting (how many chefs record interviews Read On »

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