Dan Barber, co-owner and Executive Chef of Blue Hill in New York City and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in upstate New York, is coming to Phoenix next week to promote his book, “The Third Plate: Field Notes on The Future of Food.”
The chef, food activist and author is giving a talk about his book at Changing Hands Bookstore at The Newton on Tuesday, April 14. Prior to the talk, Chef Justin Beckett is hosting a locavore dinner at Southern Rail in Barber’s honor, with a three-course meal featuring only Arizona farmers and producers.
“What an incredible gift to be next door to Changing Hands and share synergies,” Beckett said. He is referring to collaborations between his Southern-flavored restaurant and Phoenix’s largest independent bookstore like the Sean Brock dinner and book signing last November.
Beckett won’t reveal the menu — for honest reasons: he can’t finalize it until he knows what he’s getting from local farmers — but he did divulge that he has secured pork jowls from The Meat Shop and chickens and eggs from Steadfast Farm at Agritopia. Hayden Flour Mills grits and flour will make an appearance, too, along with fresh, locally grown vegetables from several local farmers.
“He [Barber] is known as the Godfather of farm-to-table cooking in the modern age. I thought, ‘what if I honored his visit by doing a dinner with nothing but local Arizona ingredients?’ That’s turned out to be more challenging than it seems,” Beckett said.
In some ways, that is the message of “The Third Plate,” but the book goes beyond the cherry-picking of ingredients for a fashionable farm-to-table dinner, something Barber deems unsustainable, and looks at the agricultural system as a whole with a different lens. It’s not always a rosy picture.
In addition to owning a restaurant and winning a couple of James Beard awards (Best Chef, New York and Outstanding Chef (National)), Barber is considered a scholar whose writings and talks challenge people to think about their food and where it comes from. The chef is fresh off a three-week “pop-up” in his Blue Hill restaurant called WastED, which featured ingredients that others consider unusable or garbage. You can read NYT’s recap here.
Barber has spoken at two separate TED events with funny, sad, scary, enlightening talks:
- How I Fell in Love with a Fish… Where he asks… “What is sustainable about feeding chicken to fish?”
- A Foie Gras Parable… Barber discovers a foie gras farm in Spain like no other — no gavage (force feeding).
Barber’s stop in Phoenix is a rare chance to meet a globally recognized voice in food policy up close. I can tell you from personal experience that he is an entertaining and motivational speaker. Erich Schulz of Steadfast Farms at Agritopia had a chance to visit Blue Hill at Stone Barns and chat with Barber, and said “He is a major force in modern farming.”
Barber’s book and talk will challenge you to think about farm-to-table dining in a whole new way.
Dinner is a 6 p.m. sharp at Southern Rail, followed by Barber’s talk at 8 p.m. at Changing Hands Bookstore at The Newton. Ticket information is below.
If you can’t make the dinner but still want to attend Barber’s talk, Changing Hands is offering two free tickets to the discussion with the purchase of The Third Plate Book ($18 + tax (paperback) and$29.95 + tax (hardcover).
(this post was updated to clarify the Changing Hands ticket offer).