Haute Ambassador Daniel Boulud On Discovering The Beauty Of Westchester County

DB_Portrait_0558_a by T. SchauerPhoto Credit: T. Schauer

I remember years ago, making trips North of New York City with my team at Restaurant DANIEL. It quickly became a tradition: every Sunday, we would meet up at Auberge Maxime or the restaurant of Bernard le Bris in North Salem, which is today Vox and run by his brother Jean. Westchester was our destination of choice on our day off to have lunch together, laugh, relax, eat, drink, play pétanque and of course plan the work week ahead.

When my wife Katherine and I started talking about getting a house outside of the city, we knew we wanted to stay close enough that we could go often on weekends. I thought Westchester County could be great so we began looking around South Salem, Katonah, Bedford and Pound Ridge until we came upon this house on a quiet street and were immediately charmed.

Westchester CountyPhoto Credit: Shutterstock

I found out the incomparable Martha Stewart lived in the region and knew that was a sign of quality farming and produce in the area. The first weekend we spent up there, she brought over a basket full of fresh salads, vegetables and herbs from her garden as a welcome gift, along with beautiful, different colored eggs from various breeds of hens. You don’t get that in the city!

Westchester is also known as horseback riding country. Driving along the back roads, you pass by various horse farms and stables sprawled across the land. I immediately feel connected to nature and the beauty of my surroundings when I’m up there, a welcome change of pace. There are numerous parks to explore, including one of my favorites, the Ward Pound Ridge Reserve, which is the county’s largest park and offers activities like hiking, fishing and horseback riding.

Westchester CountyPhoto Credit: Shutterstock

Local farms and farmer’s markets are abundant along the Hudson Valley. John Jay Homestead is a historic site that curates a quaint market on Saturdays from May through October, which is where we get most of our produce, eggs and cheese from when we’re up there. Past Cross River about ten minutes Northeast is Muscoot Farm, an open-air interpretative museum and park from the 1900s. It’s home to year-round programming and a great seasonal market, but you can also just walk around and see the pigs, sheep, donkeys, horses, chickens and learn about the site’s history. The Katonah Museum of Art is another beautiful establishment that perfectly caters to family and children through various creative and cultural outlets.

Of course, the area is also bustling with great dining options. I love to get breakfast from the Katonah Reading Room—part boutique, part café, located right by the train station. They have a wide and delicious selection of seasonal items and baked goods. Purdy’s Farmer and the Fish is another local favorite housed inside an 18th-century farmhouse. The menu offers some of the best seafood and vegetables grown on-site; a must-try is their Downeast Lobster Roll. Other elegant spots include the handsome Inn at Pound Ridge by my dear friend Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and the Bedford Post Inn, where you can enjoy a relaxing meal under the wisteria on the wrap-around terrace.

The Inn at Pound RidgePhoto Credit: The Inn at Pound Ridge

A short drive east will take you to Bernard’s in Ridgefield. Bernard Bouïssou and I worked together a long time ago at the Plaza Athénée in the city. He has since settled in Connecticut and has done a tremendous job restoring an inn from the 1800s into a local dining establishment that the community truly cherishes.

This is the perfect time of year to enjoy all that New York State has to offer.