To all my JA customers and beloved community,
Monday, March 27, 2023 was my last night of dinner service at John Andrews Farmhouse Restaurant – as I sold the business, property and building. I wanted to reach out and let you know that I will be taking a break, and taking time to see what other ventures the future may have in store for me.
I’m grateful to have lived out my dream as a chef/owner at John Andrews Farmhouse Restaurant. I’m so very grateful to all those that helped make that dream a successful reality from the very beginning in May of 1990, when Susan Bianchi and I opened the restaurant, through the Spring of 2023. There are so many people that I’m grateful for. A very big thank you to all the past and present employees that helped and supported me in my success. From teenagers for whom this was their first job to the professionals that brought their experience and skills to John Andrews. It was a privilege watching all of them grow at JA, and to see some of them go off to other exciting jobs in the hospitality business, open their own ventures, or go off to college. I witnessed many of them become young men and women and then adults, finding their own passions and careers, getting married and having families. Some of my most joyous moments came from being part of and witnessing this whole process. To my wife Iona who has been my rock, the one who grounded me, her wisdom and approach to me kept me going, and always helped in times of need. The many accomplishments and accolades that John Andrews garnered were achieved by this whole group effort.
To all my customers over the past 33 years, I’m honored to have had you dine with us, whether once, multiple times or weekly, all those who celebrated their very special occasions, rehearsal dinners, weddings and those who came in because of their favorite bartender or server. To those who have dined with us for decades allowing me to witness their families grow. It’s really an incredible experience having 2, 3 and 4 generations dining at the same table. It has been a great pleasure to get to know you. I hope to see you around in the community.
It has been a privilege for me to have lived and run a restaurant in a region with such a strong farming community. Their products and all the other food and beverage producers in this community are beyond comparison. All the high quality, beautiful local produce, meat, dairy, cheese and other products kept my creative juices flowing. I am not sure if you will ever know how blessed a chef is to work with your products and how much your products have inspired me.
I am grateful for all the Berkshire restaurant pioneers and chefs that came before me and some that continue to this day. A food writer once coined me as ‘the architect of modern Berkshire cuisine’ and ‘the godfather of the Berkshire farm to table movement’, but the real accolades goes to these restaurateurs and chefs. The likes of Brad and Leslie Wagstaff, Terry Moore, Gary Happ, Tony Cerruto, Paul Dickenson, Michelle Miller, Tony & Margaret Esposito, Micheal Ballon, Kevin Schmidt, David Renner, Peter Platt, David Lawson, and many more. These restaurateurs and chefs laid the groundwork and showed me and others that it was possible here in the Berkshires. They empowered the rest of us to come in and follow our dreams and create using our own vision. And, as it should be, each one of them raised the bar and forced others to be better and made it an area others wanted to be part of. And in doing so, created a really strong restaurant community, a community that I’m so proud to have been part of. Many people along the way have shared their invaluable advice, tips and wisdom. To all of them, and to all the chefs and restaurateurs that followed, helped me, motivated me, kept me focused, fueled my drive and helped me thrive. And to my family, my wife Iona and her family that even in my darkest of times believed in me, encouraged me, and gave their loving support. I will always be forever grateful to all of you. I would not have had the success I achieved without all of you. I’ll be forever grateful to this community and you will always be in my heart.
I am selling the property, building, and business to Rafi Bildner of Hilltown Hot Pies. I feel grateful that he will be carrying on the restaurant and his own vision for it. I know that the community will open their arms and support him and his vision the same way they did for us. I hope I have made the Esposito Family proud of what was once their residence then their prized restaurant Sebastian’s. I can see that Rafi has the passion, intelligence, enthusiasm, and determination to steward the restaurant into the future. I look forward to seeing his vision unfold and wish him much success.
If you would like to stay connected, please follow me on my personal social media accounts.
Sincerely and Gratefully,
John Andrews Farmhouse Restaurant
May 22, 1990 – March 27, 2023
Chef-Owner Dan Smith
Dan Smith has been the chef-owner of John Andrews Farmhouse Restaurant in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts since 1990, offering a unique taste-of-place dining experience for more than 25 years, long before farm-to-table was a trend. Inspired by international flavors and seasonal ingredients sourced from local farms and food makers, Dan’s restaurant was named World’s 25 Best Farmstead Experiences by The Daily Meal.
Dan’s family has been farming for generations. He was brought up on a family farm in Iowa and his experience growing fresh food is where his connection to cooking began. Dan studied agriculture at Iowa State University, planning on continuing the family farm. While in college, he began to work in restaurants and realized his passion was not for growing food, but cooking it.
Dan’s longstanding connection to local food is rooted in his farm experiences and is the starting point for his menus at John Andrews Farmhouse. He has been working with local farmers and producers, develops his menu around their products and is inspired by the produce they bring to his kitchen door. In addition to his work with farmers in the region, Dan created his own garden on the property, which supplies additional produce for the restaurant.
Since 2010, Dan has been part of the chef collective presenting locally sourced Berkshire dinners at the James Beard Foundation every year and had the honor of presenting two solo dinners at the Beard House in 2015 and 2016. He is a vital part of Berkshire cultural life, and has been giving back to the community since the inception of John Andrews Farmhouse. Dan teaches a culinary course empowering at-risk teenagers with the Railroad Street Youth Project (RSYP), is an active member of Berkshire Grown, Hudson Valley Bounty and Chefs Collaborative, and is a strong supporter of Berkshire Farm & Table and Slow Food of Western Massachusetts. He was the selected chef for Outstanding in the Field at Lila’s Farm in Great Barrington in 2013, participates in Berkshire Farm & Table’s ChefX pop-up dinners, Edible Escape events in NYC, Rampfest Hudson, Berkshire Grown Harvest Suppers and many other farm-to-table events in the region.
Berkshire Farm & Table
Berkshire Farm & Table (BF&T) supports artisan makers, chefs and farmers rooted in the food and lifestyle community. BF&T advances economic development by marketing a taste of place and building our region’s identity as a source and destination for food.
The James Beard Foundation
Celebrating, nurturing, and honoring America’s diverse culinary heritage through programs that educate and inspire.
Connecting hundreds of like-minded chefs and food professionals across the country who care about sourcing, cooking and serving better food.
Berkshire Grown supports and promotes local agriculture as a vital part of the Berkshire community, economy, and landscape.
Railroad Street Youth Project
Chef Dan Smith is a mentor with RSYP’s signature culinary arts apprenticeship program. Students learn the skills necessary for gainful employment in award-winning kitchens.
The Great Barrington Farmers’ Market is a 100 percent producer-only market offering a wide assortment of produce, herbs, meats, cheese, bread, plants, honey, maple syrup, eggs, sauerkraut, tempeh and baked goods. The market is open every Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm between Mother’s Day weekend and the last weekend in October.
Slow Food of Western Mass
Slow Food Western Mass. is part of the global Slow Food movement connecting pleasures of the table with a commitment to the communities, cultures, knowledge and environment that make this pleasure possible.