Joel Viehland, the James Beard Award-nominated executive chef of Community Table, has announced he'll leave his position at the Litchfield County restaurant on May 10.
The 38-year-old chef says the move is a good one. "I'm leaving on a positive note," he said, noting that he helped open the Washington restaurant in the same month he was married, five years ago. "I want to take some time to enjoy my marriage and spend some time with my wife."
Viehland says he'll spend the summer looking at new opportunities, "seeing what's out there, what's on the horizon, planning my next move." He hopes to travel as well, visiting destinations in New England and the Northeast that he's never seen before.
In his years at the heralded Community Table, Viehland presided over an innovative seasonal menu that was made possible by a network of close partnerships with local and regional farmers and producers. He says he's proud of the work he's done with the local farm community, advocating for strong relationships between farms and restaurants. "It's been a really great experience for me; I've gotten to work with almost only local farms. It's been a huge, huge thing for me, I've loved it."
Viehland has been nominated for the James Beard Foundation award in the Best Chef: Northeast category multiple times, including a 2015 nod. In 2011, Community Table earned a nomination for Best New Restaurant. "It's an honor to get those kind of awards," Viehland said. "I'll continue to pursue that in my future endeavors."
While he's not sure exactly what he'll do next, those endeavors may keep him in Connecticut, he says. "I feel like I have a great following, a loyal customer base...I've done a lot of work here, we've developed a good rapport with the state," he said. "There will be an opportunity for me to stay."