To be honest, it’s a little chagrining to be a food writer working and living in Westchester. Since Manhattan is the epicenter of the foodie universe, Westchester feels a bit up and to the left of the swim. Oh, we’re certainly splashed by the swim, but we’re not exactly in the swim. Or so it sometimes feels.
Sure, there’s always Chef Dan Barber of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, who has been lovingly featured in every foodie mag, dining out section, and gourmet leaflet ever cranked out of a backyard ditto machine. I must admit that as much as I love Blue Hill at Stone Barns and its mission, I’m always slightly bugged by media darlings. I mean, go ahead, Dan—do something awful—just once, so we know you’re human. Plus, I feel that there are other chefs in our county cooking at a high level, a fact that should be noted in the national media. It’s doubly frustrating to realize that some of the upper-echelon editorial staff of the NY-based food mags (that’s right, the four hallowed horsemen of Saveur, Bon Appetit, Food and Wine and Gourmet)—live out here in Westchester, so they know that our food is good and getting better all the time. Yet, still–while Chef Barber has passed through the urban media glass ceiling, no other Westchester chef has had that magical ability. We think it’s about time for that to change.
We’re thrilled, then, to see our local heroes popping up in The Show of national food coverage. As leaked on the New York Magazine website, Yonkers-born Chef Peter Kelly is apparently nominated for a James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Northeast for his work at Xaviars in Piermont. (Okay, not Westchester—but he’s still a Westchester chef with X20). While the James Beard Foundation is disavowing the leaked list and will neither confirm nor deny what was released on the New York Magazine website, we’re thinking that the roster looks pretty official and the competition looks stiff. The Beard Awards, in case you’re not the food obsessives that we are, are the restaurant-world Oscars—and are as striven-for while simultaneously distained as cinema’s famous statuette. Dan Barber, Mr. Perfect, has already won a Beard award for his work at Manhattan’s Blue Hill (and is up for another one this year, if the list is to be trusted). No doubt he keeps his award offhandedly in his bathroom or ostentatiously propping up a tomato plant.
Other Westchester inclusions on the leaked list are our soon-to-be-new-to-Westchester team of Joe Bastianich and Mario Batali for their Manhattan uber-Italian, Babbo. (As noted in previous posts, their not-so-fancy Westchester Italian is soon to open in the Port Chester space formerly housing Tarry Lodge â€“ we’ll keep you as posted as this tight-lipped bunch will allow.)
And that’s not all: in this Month’s Gourmet Magazine, our very own Monteverde at Oldstone Manor was mentioned in that magazine’s March selection of the six most noteworthy restaurants in the nation. This is satisfying news for Westchester diners, who have been enduring the constant buzz about owner Richard Friedberg and Chef Neil Ferguson other venture, Manhattan’s Allen and Delancey. Monteverde’s standout dish? According to Gourmet, it’s Chef Ferguson’s roasted marrowbones, which seem like a patriotic nod to Ferguson’s fellow Englishman, Chef Fergus Henderson of London’s St. John. Borrowed or not, we’ll take the dish: we love to gnaw a bone or two.
So things are changing, and you’ll need to watch out, Mr. Perfect. You’re no longer the only Westchester chef on the national media horizon.
Harvest on the Half Moon at the Chart House
Okay—we admit, we’ve been sort of fascinated by Harvest-on-Hudson’s snapping up of that dining dinosaur, the Chart House, and turning it into a modern American brasserie called Half Moon. Why are we so interested? Well, there was something wonderfully dated about the old Chart House space, with its groovy stone hearth with built-in seating area and long, low vistas, it was just so aprÃ¨s-ski circa 1966. I just wanted to pull up in my white mukkluks and tuck into fondue and chablis, being careful not to muss my shagadelic white lipstick, of course. We’re dying to know, how will Harvest update the space, especially by April?
That’s right, April. It looks like Half Moon is going to be hosting a New World wine tasting event to benefit St. John Hospital and Dobbs Ferry Community hospital on April 17, 2008. We’re hoping that the stone hearth and swinging inglenook remains—I haven’t had a glass of chablis in years.