To Understand Ingredients, Cooks Leave the Kitchen

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The most challenging thing I had do back when I was in restaurant school was glove-bone a chicken. Now, some wannabe Escoffiers have to slaughter a chicken—and then eviscerate it, too.

I watched them do both at the Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture, 25 miles up the Hudson River, on a sunny morning in July.

A dozen fresh graduates of the International Culinary Center were finishing up the last week of a new elective course of study called “farm-to-table” that had them gently slitting the birds’ throats humanely and groping inside the freshly killed fowl to tidily tug out the offal. And unlike my wisecracking class back in the last century, these aspiring chefs were doing both with great solemnity and respect.

It wasn’t exactly a summer vacation, but aside from the blood and guts, they looked to be spending an enviable five days.

Eighty-acre Stone Barns Center is an agrarian Eden: Flocks of sheep graze in green pastures, hogs snooze blissfully in the shade, picturesque produce grows in fields and a greenhouse, bees buzz around hives. And it is home to the renowned country outpost of Blue Hill, the trailblazing restaurant chef Dan Barber opened in Greenwich Village in 2000. The reality of learning in the fields and cooking in its kitchens had the students wide-eyed.

This story was first published in the September-October 2013 edition of Edible Manhattan. You can read the rest of this piece here.

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