The Jeroboam of Chefs, John Doherty │ Black Barn

The Jeroboam of Chefs, John Doherty │ Black Barn

In a time when it is common for chefs to simply reproduce the innovations of others, the few who speak for themselves through their food become the skilled artists of their time.

— Charlie Trotter

I walked past the Flatiron building in Manhattan and cut through Madison Square Park to the north side and felt transported to the countryside as I entered the recently established Black Barn restaurant. The upscale country decor creates a level of tasteful comfort similar to the feeling I get stepping into a dear uncle’s country home and the food lives up to the legendary status of the chef. My blogger friend Soo from Brown Eyed Toast invited me — I don’t know if she realized how much this place was meant for me and likely will be for you too.

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After our food arrived and we had some time to taste the dishes, the owner, Chef John Doherty, came out to greet us and asked if we were happy with our food. How could we not be? I asked him about the inspiration for his restaurant and a bit about his background and I was astonished with his response.

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Chef Doherty spent over 30 years at the the historic Waldorf-Astoria. Twenty-three of those years as Waldorf’s Executive Chef — even writing The Waldorf Astoria Cookbook. He brings a lot of the same ideologies of fine cuisine and a passionate staff to Black Barn. 

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Chef Doherty has had the honor of cooking for every US President, many times, since Ronald Reagan, although he’s still waiting for President Obama to make a reservation.

John Doherty Headshot[2]

Let me paint a picture for you → each September in his 30 years, twenty-five world leaders gathered for the Bilderberg Group conference alone.

I was lucky to have been part of a few historic moments.

— Chef Doherty

Truth is, he was in at least a dozen.

JD with Ronald Regan

One of John Doherty’s first presidential dinner was during the 40th Anniversary of the United Nations in 1985 — where the theme ‘United Nations for a Better World’ aided in ending the Cold War. Six world leaders gathered in one room.

What many have described the beginning of the end of communism.

The significance of it was really special.

… the energy was so high … the whole world was watching.

— Chef Doherty

Among the leaders who attended were then President Ronald Reagan and the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. This was the first time a Russian leader stepped foot onto US soil.

Head of State Picture

He went on to cook for many great leaders including kings, presidents, and religious figures throughout the world. Cooking on many different occasions for each one.

John describes the best moments happening out of sincerity and genuineness — when he was asked to come out before or after a meal. One of his favorite dinners was when he cooked for George Bush and Prime Minister Major.

… In the meantime, we were talking about food and George Bush wanted to know what we were eating and would say ‘tell me how you make that’  — I mean the guy was a big foodie. He was real funny. After the dinner he invited me out and introduced me to Prime Minister Major and we had a nice conversation.

— Chef Doherty

JD with George HW Bush

JD with George HW Bush 2

john doherty, chef's table, black barn

His first cooking lesson came at the age of 15, after a gas station job lead him to work for a local mom and pop restaurant in Commack, Long Island. John learned the true meaning of passion and hospitality.

… the joy of cooking for other people and their satisfaction, that’s hospitality.

What I noticed was when their customers walked into the door, how they stopped what they were doing, how they were genuinely happy to see these people, and when they cooked for these people — the amount of care, attention to detail, and love that really went into the food. It blew me away, even at 15 years old, I knew something special was going on here.

— Chef Doherty

John took this spark and further pursued his studies at the Culinary Institution of America. Through the courses, John engaged in competitions in Manhattan. He said to me, the most wonderful thing about going to culinary school was being able to connect his kitchen experiences to what he was learning. There was this sense of familiarity where John was able to understand the reasons for the techniques he was already using.

His early vision of success fueled Doherty’s dream that is now his reality. He didn’t believe in obstacles.

I began to have this vision … that the kitchen was impeccably clean, all the cooks were passionate, and every dish going out was amazing and beautiful. I didn’t see any reason why that couldn’t happen.

— Chef Doherty

Do yourself a favor and visit Chef Doherty at the Black Barn and once you do, you’ll want to bring your friends and family to sit with this food artist at his Chef’s Table.

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