Chefs and farmers wax poetic about their food, farms, and dishes, but let's face it: what sometimes works best is a little marketing magic. Customers want it. They consume it. And images can be as easily manufactured in the kitchen as in Tinseltown.
Dan Barber, chef and owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York, comes clean about how this works in an interesting New York Times piece about carrots - specifically, carrots that he attempted to infuse with the scent of almonds by sprinkling some of their nutty dust in his greenhouse garden.
He then marketed prodigiously, spreading the word that his almond carrots would be harvested and served at dinner one evening in a salad. What happened next is pretty hilarious, but it just goes to show you, as any Madison Avenue guru would tell you, it's the sizzle that sells.
Perhaps coincidentally, the title of this essay, "The Great Carrot Caper," was the name given to another incident in 1988 - when workers in California were photographed putting conventional carrots into bags marked organic. This was outright fraud.
Barber's antics are more innocent, but still a disguise, and one that customers end up rating with four stars.
- Samuel Fromartz