"My parents rang a cowbell when it was time for dinner," says 40-year-old chef Daniel Orr about growing up in Harrison Township (population 3,444) in Bartholomew County, Indiana. "I was always running around outsideweeding the garden, picking buckets of currants, catching crayfish or gathering cattails, which I pulled apart and ate like hearts of palm."
Daniel left Indiana years agohe is now the chef at CuisinArt Resort & Spa in Anguillabut he returns every summer to spend the Fourth of July with his parents. His mom and dad, Mary Lu and Thomas (or Lefty, as he's been known since his days playing minor-league baseball), run a wheat, corn and soybean farm that originally belonged to Daniel's great-great-grandparents. His parents still live in the lakefront house where Daniel grew up, and they still raise everything from asparagus to grapes in their gardens and greenhouse.
Daniel got his start in those gardens. At age 10, he was experimenting with planting mizuna seeds and different mustard varieties. By 14, he was expanding his knowledge of food to caviar, foie gras and truffles, which he discovered at dinners prepared by family friends Claire and Jim Gregory, corporate chefs for a local diesel-engine manufacturer. At Jim's suggestionand on an Eagle Scout scholarshipDaniel studied cooking at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island. Afterward he worked at Michelin three-star restaurants in France and Belgium before becoming executive chef at La Grenouille and then at Guastavino's in New York City. At CuisinArt Resort, Daniel is getting the chance to do some farming again. He plans to expand the resort's organic and hydroponic gardens, where he grows eggplant, bok choy, bananas and avocados, among other fruits and vegetables.