America’s newest destination restaurants aren’t where you’d expect them to be

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AH, SPRING. Trees are ridiculously colorful, tulips are spilling from bushels at farmers markets, peas take center stage, and a kaleidoscope of birds is migrating. Chefs are too. Just as WFH executives came to life when the pandemic set in, many of the nation’s most notable chefs, facing restaurant closures, indefinite licenses, and notoriously thin profit margins, have heard the call from the country. Specifically, rural hotels.

Last spring, when April Bloomfield first saw the Mayflower Inn & Spa, the newly renovated elegant 58-acre resort in Washington, Connecticut, she took a deep breath. “It looked so bright and airy, and it was exactly where I wanted to be at the time,” said the chef, best known for the Spotted Pig and the Breslin in New York City. A four-month residency in Mayflower, an Auberge Resort, which began in the fall of 2020, has now turned into a long-term post-Covid job, with a kitchen roughly three times the size of any other he’s worked in. since he started cooking at 16 in his native England. “It’s good for me to be able to open the back door, go out and look at the colors, listen to the birds, see the sunset,” he said. “It’s a gift.” Parker Brothers could make an excellent board game with the exodus of chefs from the city to pastoral hotels, due in part to the pandemic. Call it, say, the fork escaped with the spoon. The arrangements include full-time positions, three-month residencies, and one-time weekends, and have opened up a whole new landscape for people who travel, to some extent, for good food. Dan Silverman, who began his career with star chef David Bouley, spent years in the famous kitchens of New York City before leaving Minetta Tavern in Greenwich Village to the north. Settled at Hutton Brickyards, a 31-cabin and suite hotel, spa and event retreat on 73 acres in Kingston, New York, opening in May. There you will run the River Pavilion, an open-air restaurant that relies solely on wood-burning heat sources and has views of the Hudson unblocked by crowds or tall buildings. “It’s beautiful, right on the river,” Silverman said, from the home in Catskill that he and his wife prophetically purchased in 2019. It’s a 35-minute drive to the Hutton Brickyards. “We used to live in Brooklyn and I worked in Manhattan. My commute was longer then. “An expanded version of this article appears on WSJ.com. Popular stories from WSJ.com: