Culinary School: Blue Hill at Stone Barns

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[infobox bg="bluelight" color="black" opacity="on" subtitle="Blue Hill at Stone Barns"]Adventures in Culinary School[/infobox]

This past weekend I ventured outside of the city to get a taste of the farm life, and it sure was delicious.  For my program at culinary school, The International Culinary Center teamed up with the genius Chef Dan Barber, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and Stone Barn Center for Food and Agriculture to create the Farm-to-Table portion of my studies.  It's a very special place, which you understand if you've experienced the farm and restaurant first-hand.  If you haven't allow me to explain.

Blue Hill at Stone Barns functions as seasonally driven restaurant.  Founded by Dan and his family, he follows the calendar in the restaurant - serving only what's in season and available from both the farm and his trusted purveyors.  When you dine in the restaurant there is no menu.  You simply discuss what's available that evening, any food allergies you may have, something you'd really love to try and then the kitchen puts together a custom meal for you and your compadres.  It's really quite fabulous, especially in the hands of Dan and his VP Adam Kaye.

The farm is incredibly special as well.  My fellow students and I took our first trip to Stone Barns Center this weekend, and we'll spend a week working on the farm and in the restaurant in June when our program comes to an end.  During our tour on Saturday we saw everything from the current crops being grown and harvested, saw all of the animals, ate lunch on the property and stuck around for a charcuterie demo with Adam and his staff.  To my amazement, despite a fierce blizzard and freezing temperatures, the farm is operational.  No amount of snow or cold gets in the way of what needs to be done as we saw first hand.  At one point, 2 chefs from the kitchen ran outside in the snow to gather the spinach they'd use in that evenings meal (we got to taste it - incredibly good).

Naturally, the most thrilling part of the pigsday was spending time with the animals they're raising on the farm.  The cows wander the entire property, the famous geese run about and get rounded up by the dogs, the sheep, pigs, and hens hang out in massive, covered shelters during the snowy winter months and they're considering bringing in a goat to help control invasive plants like poison ivy where the animals graze.

The past weekend was a delight for me, providing a glimpse of what my week at Blue Hill at Stone Barns will be like when I return in June at the end of my program.  At that time, I'll have 5 more levels at The International Culinary Center under my belt, preparing me for the creativity and tasks ahead of me.  We'll prepare seasonal dishes daily, tend to what needs to be done on the farm, and experience a world-class kitchen firsthand.  I couldn't ask for a more enriching program than the one I'm in at The ICC, and am so thankful to have the opportunity to learn from the gang up at Blue Hill at Stone Barns as well.  Til next week...