NEW YORK—Located in Manhattan on E. 26th St., Chef John Doherty owns BlackBarn Restaurant, a venue offering locally sourced, upscale American fare in a barn-inspired setting. The highlight is the Chef’s Table where each week patrons get a front-row seat to the art of the meal. The five courses are selected by the chef and made from seasonal ingredients.
“The menu changes each month and is inspired by the season. After Chef Matteo [Bergamini] and I collaborate and design a menu we are excited about, we turn it over to Andrija Tadejevic, our sommelier, to pair the wines,” said Doherty. “Our goal is to create a menu of food and wine that is familiar, yet has an element of surprise in its simplicity of ingredients and complexity of flavor and texture. Oftentimes, our favorite dishes from the Chef’s Table make it onto the dining room menu the following month.”
As an owner and chef, Doherty explained that he doesn’t always get to spend as much time in the kitchen as he would like because he’s managing operations at both the NoMad location and the recently opened Chelsea Market location of BlackBarn.
“Matteo does an excellent job running the kitchen operations, but the Chef’s Table needs a dedicated person to pull it off. The Chef’s Table is a way for me to reconnect with customers by cooking and interacting with them throughout the meal,” he said. “Adding a charitable component seemed like a natural extension of my interest in giving back as the founder of Heavenly Harvest Foundation.”
With the charity arm, Doherty sought to make a positive impact on hunger. The many natural disasters that have destroyed communities and uprooted families across the nation spurred him to take action.
“A lot of people don’t realize just how many American families lack the means to get enough nutritious food on a regular basis. A staggering one in six Americans face hunger each day. Sadly, too many children go to school in order to get a free meal and too many parents have to choose between paying rent and buying groceries,” he said. “Heavenly Harvest Foundation aims to provide meals that are packed with nutrition to those in need, without any preservatives or artificial ingredients. Each package of food is fully cooked and shelf stable for up to 18 months, requiring only a microwave oven or skillet to reheat.”
According to Doherty, Heavenly Harvest meals are stabilized through natural acidity, time and temperature treatments that kill any harmful bacteria.
“Like making organic preserves out of fruits, a practice that has been around long before adding chemicals to food was the go-to method of preservation, we make fresh and delicious foods that can be enjoyed without sacrificing health. By using a pouch, the food takes less time than say a can or jar and therefore retains more nutrition,” he said. “After nearly 30 years of feeding over a million people a year in the Waldorf Astoria kitchen, I learned what people like to eat. This experience has made it easy for me to develop meals that will please everyone in the family.”
The June menu of the Chef’s Table will feature chilled pea soup; roasted Monkfish; beef rib ravioli; Zimmerman Farm heritage chicken; and a chocolate-hazelnut tart. Fresh seasonal ingredients like heirloom tomato, grilled corn, teardrop peppers, sugar snap peas, cherries and cucumbers will complement these dishes.
The wine pairings will be, respectively, R. Geoffroy “Expression” Champagne; Kumeau Pinot Gris 2014; Valduero Riserva Ribera del Duero 2010; and Louise Cheze “Anges” 2015.
“When I started my career, the idea of true hospitality, serving others, was what drew me into the world of fine dining. The Chef’s Table is a chance for me to personally host and entertain customers, two things I value greatly,” he said. “It’s extremely rewarding to watch people enjoy the food I prepare as an experience, in the kitchen and on the plate. Our Chef’s Table is quite social as the seating is communal, and people end up leaving having made new friends with a common interest of enjoying great wine and food.”
Reflecting on his business and charity, Doherty is passionate about feeding those in need, so much so, it has provided him the ability to help others in many different aspects of his businesses.
“A portion of all proceeds from both my motivational speaking engagements and BlackBarn Foods for the Home will go toward Heavenly Harvest Foundation,” he said. “This line of food items, such as preserves, coffee, chocolates and truffle products that I specially developed myself, can be found for purchase at BlackBarn’s Chelsea Market location as well as on our website blackbarnshop.com.”