It was only a matter of time before the most creative chefs in the country started looking for their next challenge. The foams and gels and perfect spheres of molecular gastronomy no longer surprise; the knowledge that fresh, local produce tastes good has spread so far from Alice Waters' corner of Berkeley that even fast(ish)-food chains have taken up that gospel. Plus, there's a limit to how many times you can serve a meal of simple, locally grown ingredients—a scattering of vivid heirloom vegetables served beside oh-so-juicy roast chicken, however gussied up—before the delight wears off just a tiny bit.
So for the past year or so, the chef Dan Barber has been evangelizing for a new direction—taking cooking from the kitchen to the farm. As he once put it: "What if we could 'cook' or manipulate flavors in the field, long before anything got into our kitchens?"
Instead of seeking out farms growing delicious fruits and vegetables, Barber’s vision of the future is that chefs could look one step deeper into the food production system—to the plant breeders who provide farmers with seeds. Why stop at farm-to-table? Chefs could be dreaming up test-field-to-table food and working with breeders to create exactly the ingredients they desire.