Eric Warnstedt (Hen of the Wood)
Phoebe Bright (Blue Paddle Bistro)
Hen of the Wood co-owner and chef Eric Warnstedt has been nominated for a James Beard Foundation award for best chef in the Northeast five consecutive times. Is it any wonder that Seven Days readers finally recognized him as Vermont’s favorite?
No, Warnstedt didn’t cook up his Waterbury restaurant’s rustic, rocky-walled dining room overlooking a waterfall. But he’s the man responsible for the straight-off-the-farm cuisine that flies out of the former grist mill’s tiny kitchen. Soon similar fare will be available in Burlington, at Hen of the Wood’s forthcoming location at Hotel Vermont.
It’s not just Warnstedt’s fare but his sense of fun that wins over Vermonters. From a dinner featuring a whole lamb skewered with flickering sparklers to lower-priced Monday chalkboard menus and locals-only parties, Warnstedt knows how to keep even the heaviest duck-fat-drenched dinner feeling light.
SEVEN DAYS: What’s better — getting nominated for a Beard award or the Daysies?
ERIC WARNSTEDT: The answer, obviously, is the Daysies! It’s not about being famous; I just want the respect of my locals, as long as we can make a living.