Fresh off a brand-new, two-Michelin-star rating for his Westchester destination restaurant Blue Hill at Stone Barns, chef Dan Barber is exuberant.
It’s the first year his famed Tarrytown restaurant has been eligible for Michelin stars since opening in 2004, and it debuted with an impressive two. Barber’s restaurant has long been excluded from the New York City guide by virtue of not being in the city, but this year, the guide expanded to Westchester for the first time, qualifying the restaurant. Right now, Blue Hill at Stone Barns is the only Westchester restaurant included in the guide.
“Two stars seems to recognize that whenever the Michelin reviewers came, they saw something that we see in ourselves and so it’s thrilling,” Barber says.
The chef has been waiting a long time for this; he first heard of a potential expansion to Westchester about a decade ago. He also got his start cooking in Paris, where he says “the sense of respect and the tradition that is inculcated into the French food culture by Michelin is enormous.” He spent much of his time in a restaurant in France where the walls were decorated solely with old copies of the Michelin guide.
“Fast forward a little more than 25 years and to receive two stars ourselves, it has a different kind of weight to it,” he says.
It’s also particularly meaningful for his team, who Barber says is “coincidentally and serendipitously” right now made up of a lot of French cooks. His chef de cuisine Bastien Guillochon is from Corsica, and his longtime director of operations and general manager Philippe Gouze trained in France.
The restaurant is in celebration mode, though nothing specific has been planned. Barber’s already looking to the future. “It seems like it’s going to be an exciting week to cook in the restaurant — because of course now we have to defend,” he says, also mentioning the one star that his New York City restaurant Blue Hill has earned since 2008.
Barber’s brother and co-owner David Barber (his wife Laureen Barber is also a co-owner and the restaurant’s designer) also says getting two stars “gives us something to shoot for,” referring to trying for a third star. But he didn’t want to downplay the significance of their new two-Michelin-star rating.
“Despite [Dan’s] enormous success globally, things have not come quickly or easily,” David Barber says. “This is a moment that took 15 years for Blue Hill at Stone Barnes to realize.”