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Dining Outside The Box

Dining Outside The BoxApassion for fresh produce and commitment to seasonality has ledTufts graduate and celebrated chef, Dan Barber, to his latestgourmet success. PoncanticoHills, New York.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [08.09.04] Throughout his rising career, Dan Barber has frequently experimented with foods. Owner of New York's E-news Management Console : E-News Story - Add From Archivestrendy eatery "Blue Hill," Barber has become a renowned chef and a culinary celebrity - catering Hollywood weddings and preparing dishes on the Today Show. Now the Tufts graduate is working on his newest project: serving up sustainable agriculture.

"[Our goal is to] show how locally grown food can strengthen communities and how small farms can be their foundation," Barber told the New York Times, describing his new restaurant "Blue Hill at Stone Farms."

Barber's creation - which is both fine restaurant and working farm - is set in the rolling hills of Westchester, New York.

"Blue Hill at Stone Barns is more than a restaurant - it is the ambassador for an 80-acre experiment involving pastures, calving sheds, greenhouses, lecture halls and compost heaps," reported the Times. "In league with the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, Blue Hill has a mission: encourage diners not only to know where food comes from but also to celebrate organic food that grows close to home."

The result is a dining experience packed with robust favors and personality.

[Barber's combination of restaurant and farm] - which goes beyond mere novelty - is one compelling reason for people near and far to pay attention to the restaurant," reported a Times food critic who praised the Tufts graduate's restaurant experiment and menu alike.

As critics continue to churn out glowing reviews for Blue Hill at Stone Farms - which opened its doors in late spring - New York chefs give Barber much of the credit for the restaurant's success.

"Dan has this whole right-brain, left brain thing going on, which is rare for us," one colleague told the New Yorker.

His attention to detail and unique approach to food have quickly catapulted him to star status in the food world. New York Magazine described him as a practitioner in the art of gentle cooking. Food and Wine Magazine even named him one of the best new chefs in America.

But that hasn't stopped Barber from putting all of his focus into Blue Hill at Stone Barns. As he told the Times, he wants his environmental ideas, as well as his restaurant, to prove successful over the long term.

"I am worried about making it work financially while at the same time attaining this far-reaching goal of farming in Westchester," he told the newspaper. "I feel responsible for following through on all the things I said would occur."

Based on the reactions of many of his customers, Barber's menu - which changes weekly depending on what he picks from the surrounding fields - does just that.

"Go get inspired by the need for sustainable agriculture and community growing; go because you want to truly understand what happens when food goes directly from pasture to table; or goes because you want to dine on interesting food in a beautiful environment," reported Westchester Magazine. "But go."

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