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Ferrisburgh's Starry Night Café Reopens With a New Chef

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Executive chef Robert Smith III - COURTESY OF DANIELLE ALLENDORF
  • Courtesy Of Danielle Allendorf
  • Executive chef Robert Smith III

Robert Smith III, the new executive chef at Starry Night Café, had never even been to Ferrisburgh before his job interview there in November. But the 29-year-old chef, who grew up in Jericho, was immediately impressed by the destination restaurant on Route 7. It's "one of the most beautiful restaurants I've seen in Vermont," he said.

After a temporary closure in the fall, Starry Night held a soft reopening at the end of December. It currently serves dinner Thursday through Sunday, with a limited menu as the kitchen staffs up, Smith said.

That menu will continue to evolve and be "harmonious with the seasons," as Smith put it. One of his current dishes is a marina di Chioggia squash from North Ferrisburgh's Farmer Hil that he sears, compresses in kombu seaweed for days, and then braises and reglazes in squash juice. "It's like a vegan steak," Smith said.

Steak tartare is cut to order and served deconstructed, with puffed buckwheat, shiso leaves, and a fork and spoon so guests can mix it themselves. A weekend special features cold-smoked Prince Edward Island mussels on oat-honey levain sourdough toast made by Starry Night pastry chef Courtney Lucia.

Smith started his restaurant career as a dishwasher at the now-closed Kitchen Table Bistro in Richmond. At 22, he moved to California, where he cooked at Providence and Sightglass Coffee in Los Angeles and at Central Kitchen and the Michelin-starred Al's Place in San Francisco. He moved back to Vermont just two days before his job interview at Starry Night.

"I have a contemporary approach [to cooking], with a lot of global techniques and flavors that I learned in California," Smith said. "But it's focused through Vermont's bounty."

The original print version of this article was headlined "Stars Align"