The Blue Hill restaurants at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, N.Y., and in Greenwich Village will not reopen in their current formats next year, nor will the restaurants be called Blue Hill.
In a letter to staff late Sunday, the chef Dan Barber said he and his partners in the restaurants — his brother, David, and sister-in-law, Laureen — planned to establish a chef-in-residence program at the former Blue Hill at Stone Barns.
Though the exact details are still evolving, he said they hoped to welcome four chefs next year, one each season, to run the restaurant under the visiting chef’s name at Stone Barns. It will be open to the public.
The chef also said he would be stepping away from kitchen duties, something he had been contemplating for a couple of years, to focus on the chef-in-residency program. After 2021, he said the future of the restaurants had yet to be decided, and they might reopen.
Blue Hill at Stone Barns opened in 2004, part of an establishment that includes an elaborate farm, and the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, a research center. Blue Hill opened in 2000. Both restaurants have been selling food boxes for pickup and delivery during the pandemic. The Blue Hill name will continue to be used for events, catering operations and picnic meals served outdoors at Stone Barns.
The pivot to the chef-in-residence program had been in the works before Covid-19 changed New York’s restaurant landscape, but the pandemic put those plans on the fast track.
“This came about because we have been reflecting on this moment in time and where a restaurant belongs in our culture,” Dan Barber said. “The staff has been pushing some of the issues.”
He said it would be an opportunity to “shine a light on a chef who has not had a space like this.” Chefs who have lost their kitchens because of the pandemic or are between jobs are prime candidates, and the Barbers are looking globally, with diversity in terms of color and gender in mind. They also said that the chef had to have a strong interest in agriculture, given the restaurant’s ties to the farm and research center.
The Manhattan restaurant will continue to support food box assembly and sales, as well as catering. It will also eventually help support the Stone Barns endeavor.
Right now, the Barbers are trying to secure the necessary financing for the chef-in-residence plan and to fine-tune details, such as whether the guest chef, who will be paid, will also receive lodging.
They expect to announce the first chef in the program by early fall, with an opening projected for early next year.