F&W Free Preview All You Coastal Living Cooking Light Food and Wine tab Health myRecipes Southern Living Sunset
My F&W
quick save (...)

Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

RSS
Trendspotting

Why You Should Put Down the Fork

default-image

Chef Dan Barber’s finger-food lessons. As told to F&W’s Kate Krader

Finger Food Lessons

Illustration © Lauren Tamaki.

After we opened Blue Hill in New York City in 2000, I decided to do a Valentine’s Day menu with no silverware. It’s an idea I essentially ripped off from Alain Rondelli, a brilliant chef in San Francisco in the very early 1990s. His food was quite traditional, but then he’d do these incredibly iconoclastic things, like have a waiter walk around the dining room with just-spun cotton candy. In 2012, that doesn’t seem like a big deal, but back then it was fantastic. I saw how happy everyone was, and I equated no silverware with being happy at a restaurant.

Then I tried it as a full meal for Valentine’s Day at Blue Hill. It was a fun idea, but miserably executed. We served distracting dishes, like sweetbreads skewered on something like cinnamon sticks. Instead of being about love and looking at each other, it was just messy.

Still, I’ve turned the no-silverware ethos into the first part of a meal at Stone Barns. We serve a bunch of little things you grab at and nibble on—carrots and young bok choy skewered on a “fence”; pancetta-wrapped hakurei turnips; beet burgers with olive oil financiers. It’s less formal, without the interruptions of clearing that happen when we serve the amuse-bouche with a lot of silverware.

But I’m not a trailblazer in any of this. I just ate at Noma in Copenhagen: During my first hour there, I can’t remember if we used silverware at all. I was busy crushing ants [Noma’s current menu features live ants] and nibbling, skewering and swiping a parade of imaginative things. That’s the evolution of where restaurants are going: more extreme spontaneity and interaction. You can’t eat ants with silverware.

F&W Best New Chef 2002 Dan Barber is the co-owner of Blue Hill in Manhattan and Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, New York.

Related: Best New Finger Foods

advertisement
The Dish
Receive delicious recipes and smart wine advice 4x per week in this e-newsletter.
The Wine List Weekly pairing plus best bottles to buy.
F&W Daily One sensational dish served fresh every day.
American Express Publishing ("AEP") may use your email address to send you account updates and offers that may interest you. To learn more about the ways we may use your email address and about your privacy choices, read the AEP Privacy Statement.
How we use your email address
advertisement
Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Join celebrity chefs, renowned winemakers and epicurean insiders at the culinary world’s most spectacular weekend, the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, June 20-22.