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Logan StoryCorps: How Barney Northrop went from conspiracist to respected chef

William Wood and Barney Northrop stand with arms around each other, facing the camera. Wood stands half a head taller than Northrop smiling, wearing a tee green shirt with a United Athletics logo in the left chest. He has short dark curly and graying hair. Barney Northrop also smiles, his eyes narrow. He wears a gray tee shirt, with long brown curly hair and a trim beard and mustache.
William Wood and Barney Northrop at their StoryCorps appointment in Logan.

It's time again for Utah StoryCorps, everyday people sharing their stories at the StoryCorps recording booth in Logan.

Chef Barney Northrop and his friend Wil Wood share the story of how growing up in an isolated corner of Cache Valley has added a rich flavor to dining out in Logan.

BARNEY NORTHROP: My mom and my stepdad pulled me out of school because we were going to be given the Mark of the Beast if we stayed in school.

WILLIAM WOOD: So what grade would that have been?


WILLIAM WOOD: Fifth? Okay.

BARNEY NORTHROP: Yeah, it was about halfway through the fifth grade. Oh, my stepdad was very into conspiracy theory kind of stuff. And the bulk of my homeschooling for a little over a year was just me and my little sister and my mom taking turns reading the Book of Mormon. So I read the Book of Mormon six times in one year, and we went to the library a lot. I would read a lot, like sometimes I'd read a whole book in a day, you know,

WILLIAM WOOD: Oh my gosh.

BARNEY NORTHROP: I could read seven books in a week. And my stepdad was very much not nice to me. I mean, I'd ride my bike around and just like try and disappear for hours, and I moved out of the house nine days after I turned 18.

WILLIAM WOOD: Why so soon?

BARNEY NORTHROP: Uh, why so late. It took me nine days to find a place.

WILLIAM WOOD: And we have to get into how you got into food.

BARNEY NORTHROP: Oh, well, I needed a job. I wanted money. One of the reasons why I hadn't had the proper job yet was because back to like the weird conspiracy theory stuff, I would have to use my social security card. And then I would be "in the system" and again, back to the whole mark of the beast thing, and then they can track you.

WILLIAM WOOD: So take me from 16, afraid of the mark of the beast, to literally having 666 tattooed on your thigh.

BARNEY NORTHROP: Oh yeah. It was a best friend tattoo that I got on my birthday. I guess in a way it is part of my continued rebellion against my ultra religious upbringing. I got married at 19.


BARNEY NORTHROP: I got divorced at 22. And that was really when my whole religious — everything — deconstruction started.

WILLIAM WOOD: So take me from 22 to the Barney that I met. You're a highly respected chef in town — like, people love Barney,

BARNEY NORTHROP: The tallest short person, I guess.

WILLIAM WOOD: Fair enough. So you are a highly accomplished chef. I own a cooking store. You teach classes sometimes.

BARNEY NORTHROP: Doing a class tonight.

WILLIAM WOOD: We are! And as soon as we put a class up that Barney Northrop's teaching, boom: sells out. People want Barney,

BARNEY NORTHROP: You and your wife come out to eat. And y'all, you know, you're having a date night in a bar, and you're Mormon.

WILLIAM WOOD: And we don't drink.

BARNEY NORTHROP: Yeah. And you don't drink — well, you sure drink a lot of Pepsi. But, no, I mean, I'm so honored when I get people like you to come into the bar just for my food.

WILLIAM WOOD: My religion has taught me to act like how I think Jesus would. Yeah. And to me, I'm like, Jesus would totally be friends with Barney.

BARNEY NORTHROP: I'm... I have multiple times meant to say this to you. Your mother's funeral? When... I might cry now. Your mother's funeral. Because your mom was such an amazing woman.


BARNEY NORTHROP: It was really eye opening to me. What a good upbringing was and made a big realization at that funeral that I didn't have a happy upbringing. I think I'm a good person in spite of it.

WILLIAM WOOD: You are a good person.

BARNEY NORTHROP: I do my best. Do you think I'm gonna go to hell?

WILLIAM WOOD: No. Hell no. You spread positivity. And I think you're a beautiful person.

BARNEY NORTHROP: Thank you. Thank you.

WILLIAM WOOD: I love you, Barney,

BARNEY NORTHROP: I love you, buddy.

WILLIAM WOOD: We're having a hand hug over the table.

BARNEY NORTHROP: Yeah, we are. Thank you very much.

WILLIAM WOOD: Thank you, Barney. And thanks for talking about my mom.

BARNEY NORTHROP: Yeah, she was great.



Support for Logan StoryCorps comes from Cache County and from USU Credit Union, a division of Goldenwest.

Mary got hooked on oral histories while visiting Ellis Island and hearing the recorded voices of immigrants that had passed through. StoryCorps drew her to UPR. After she retired from teaching at Preston High, she walked into the station and said she wanted to help. Kerry put her to work taking the best 3 minutes out of the 30 minute interviews recorded in Vernal. Passion kicked in. Mary went on to collect more and more stories and return them to the community on UPR's radio waves. Major credits to date: Utah Works, One Small Step, and the award winning documentary Ride the Rails.
Kirsten grew up listening to Utah Public Radio in Smithfield, Utah and now resides in Logan. She has three children and is currently producing Utah StoryCorps and working as the Saturday morning host on UPR. Kirsten graduated from Utah State University with a Bachelor's degree History in 2000 and dual minors in Horticulture and German. She enjoys doing voice work, reading, writing, drawing, teaching children, and dancing. Major credits include StoryCorps, Utah Works, One Small Step, and the APTRA award-winning documentary Ride the Rails.
Check out our past StoryCorps episodes.