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Top Chef

Top ChefHaving spent his culinary career advocating the "farm-to-table" approach to cooking, Tufts graduate Dan Barber is receiving high honors for his work.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [05.07.09] Tufts graduate Dan Barber (A'92), a leader for the "farm-to-table" movement of using locally grown farm ingredients in cooking, has two new additions to his menu of accomplishments. Aside from receiving one of the highest honors in the culinary world this month when he was named chef of the year by the James Beard Foundation, Barber has been named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME magazine.

Barber runs two restaurants, New York City's Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in upstate New York, and has been lauded for his focus on using seasonable, local agriculture in meals.

In writing for TIME about Barber, who was honored in the "Scientists and Thinkers" category of the list, chef Ferran AdriÓ uses three words to describe his work: "ethics, passion and transformation."

"[Barber] is something more than just a chef. His ethics - conservation, the use of vegetables and animals that are grown and raised within the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture - are a model for all chefs and all those who love good food," AdriÓ wrote.

In the culinary world, the James Beard Foundation awards are akin to the Academy Awards, with winners determined by votes from their peers in the restaurant industry.

"The artisanal work [Barber] has been doing at Blue Hill and Stone Barns has received national attention so we are not surprised that his peers have recognized his contribution," Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation, told Reuters.

Upon accepting the award, according to the Associated Press, Barber recounted the time he told his father he wanted to become a chef. When his father asked why, Barber replied "Because I really love food." His father's response, after a long pause? "I love books but I don't read for a living."

Barber, however, has made a successful living out of his love for food. Since opening Blue Hill in 2000, he was honored as one of the best new chefs in the country by Food and Wine magazine in 2002, named to the "next generation of great chefs" by Bon Appetit and a recipient the Beard Foundation award for best New York City chef in 2006.

His accomplishments extend beyond the kitchen, including advisory roles with Harvard Medical School's Center for Health and the Global Environment and the Kellogg Foundation and writing for outlets ranging from The New York Times to Gourmet.

Still, Barber is humble about his accomplishments, driven by his critical approach to understanding the life cycle of food before it reaches the plate.

"I'm an educated chef, blessed with a depth of understanding that enables me to communicate in a way that others aren't able to," he told Tufts Magazine last summer. "It's the luck of circumstance, more than any particular intellectual prowess on my part."

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