New York native and chef/owner of BLACKBARN restaurant, John Doherty has had quite a busy year. He already has an impressive 30-year legacy at the Waldorf-Astoria, where he met and fed four sitting presidents of the United States, authored “The Waldorf-Astoria Cookbook” and received the prestigious James Beard Silver Spoon Award. But now, Chef Doherty is looking to feed the world, one child at a time.
Chef Doherty officially opened his own restaurant, BLACKBARN, in September 2015, with a menu that features modern twists on traditional fare. In late 2017, with partners Mark and Kristen Zeff, he expanded to Chelsea Market, where his signature farm-to-table favorites are complemented by a homewares and accessories shop. In addition to this expansion, Chef Doherty created the Heavenly Harvest Foundation to make healthy, shelf-stable meals for families in need. Heavenly Harvest Foundation has officially begun distribution in partnership with Feed the Children, and already a total of 50,000 meals, beginning with a carefully designed red beans and rice and three-bean chili recipe, have been delivered to families in New York City, Boston and Chicago. Coming from humble beginnings himself, Chef Doherty aims to be more than a chef and restaurateur.
We asked Chef Doherty about his new venture and what motivates him and his foundation. “I am passionate about feeding those in need,” he says. “After nearly 30 years of cooking for over a million people a year in the Waldorf-Astoria kitchen and at BLACKBARN over the past four years, I have learned what people like to eat. This experience made it easy for me to develop meals that families will feel proud to put on their table.”
Years of research led Chef Doherty to develop dishes that can be safely stored at room temperature. These shelf-stable meals are able to be kept in home kitchens for up to 18 months before being eaten. They are made with high-quality and locally sourced ingredients, such as meat, vegetables, pasta or rice, herbs and spices without any preservatives or artificial ingredients. Utilizing the latest food technology that applies heat rather than preservatives in order to keep meals fresh, the packages contain at least 20 grams of protein each, in addition to high levels of iron, calcium and vital nutrients such as vitamins A and C. Chef Doherty specially crafted recipes to include wholesome ingredients while remaining flavorful and nutritious.
Through its partnership with Feed the Children, Heavenly Harvest began trial distribution in Boston and Chicago in summer 2019. Mr. Sid, the company that received the Heavenly Harvest Community Service Award, donated 5,000 meals through the YMCA. Heavenly Harvest has also supplied meals in Chef Doherty’s own neighborhood in Chelsea, as well as to Project Hope in Jamaica, Queens. Additional meals are planned for distribution in New York City later this year.
Food insecurity exists in every single county in America, and over 50 million Americans struggle to put food on the table every single day. Through Feed the Children, the Heavenly Harvest meals can aid those in need at no cost to them. “A staggering one in six Americans face hunger each day,” says Joe Allegro of Feed the Children.
In honor of Hunger Action month, for every person who dines at the BLACKBARN Chef's Table on Saturday nights between Sept. 29 and Nov. 24 (Thanksgiving weekend), Chef Doherty will supply enough Heavenly Harvest meals to feed a child for a week.