About us

Who We Are

Justin Mosher   executive chef, co-owner

Chef Justin Mosher, a Pioneer Valley native, has been in the kitchen since he could stand. After watching his father serve the community as a celebrated chef, Justin knew that he wanted to follow in his footsteps. His career has carried him through many professional adventures, from working alongside Julia Child as a teen, to cooking a surprise meal for a US President under the hawk-eyed supervision of the Secret Service. Outside of the Blue Heron, his favorite stint thus far was working alongside Daniel Bruce, the founder of the Boston Wine & Food Festival. The Blue Heron called him back home to the Valley, where Justin has been the Executive Chef since 2015.

Nick Ruggiano   chief executive officer, co-owner

Nick Ruggiano, Boston-born, moved to the Pioneer Valley in his early teens. He soon began working as a cook, using food as one of his many artistic mediums. After moving across the country, he was offered the position of Sous Chef to apprentice under an array of recognized French chefs who taught him a variety of eclectic skills, including how to debone a fish while blindfolded. Those experiences, combined with Nick’s determination and natural affinity for the craft, led to his early graduation from Le Cordon Bleu at the top of his class. After cooking for the Samsung group during the 2002 Winter Olympics, he made his way back East to the Blue Heron, where he became Chef de Cuisine. The Blue Heron aligns with his deepest values surrounding the culinary arts: the importance of love in cooking, commitment to community, and the celebration of food.

Our Story

Inspired by their lifelong love of food and hospitality, Blue Heron’s founders Deborah Snow and Barbara White opened the Blue Heron Restaurant on the banks of the Sawmill River in Montague, Massachusetts in 1997. The Blue Heron quickly rose to prominence as one of the best restaurants in the Pioneer Valley. After a successful six-year run, Deborah and Barbara went in search of a new location to accommodate their growing customer base. The vacant Old Town Hall in Sunderland seemed like the perfect spot, and in 2004 the Blue Heron re-opened in its current home. Deborah and Barbara retired in July of 2022, passing the torch of their beloved restaurant on to Justin and Nick.

Justin and Nick collectively hold 50 years of experience in the restaurant industry. They met and began their careers in the same Northampton restaurant kitchen when they were in their early teens, and they have worked as a dynamic duo under a number of award-winning chefs across the country ever since. Years of exploration and practice have given them an appreciation for fine dining and the farm-to-table experience. In 2002, Deborah offered Nick the Chef de Cuisine position at the original Blue Heron location, which Nick only accepted with the understanding that Justin would be his Sous Chef. There was something special about the Blue Heron; they knew this restaurant would be a part of their future. Now, years later, Justin and Nick have shown that with passion and dedication, it is possible to make your dreams come true. They are honored to continue the legacy and traditions of the Blue Heron.

Justin, Jeff, Nick, Deborah (2002)

From left to right- Justin, Jeff Stutsman, Nick, Deborah (2002)

Our Philosophy

The Blue Heron is committed to maintaining a strong agricultural and economic community. We believe deeply that we must play an active role in the stewardship of our planet.

The abundance of small family farms in the Connecticut River Valley allows us to stay connected to the source of what we eat. Whenever possible, we purchase seasonal, regionally grown products, farmed without the use of antibiotics, hormones, or GMOs. Our meats are pasture raised and grass fed without hormones or antibiotics. If we cannot source a menu item locally, we purchase from farms and ranches committed to sustainable farming practices.

The Building

The Old Town Hall was built in 1867 to house the Sunderland town offices and grammar school. Over the years, the building has served numerous municipal functions; in fact, we’ve had several couples celebrating anniversaries tell us that they got their marriage license in what is now our kitchen! The first floor and basement were remodeled in the 1940s, but the second floor retains its original construction, including the Great Room’s stunning pressed tin walls and ceilings.

In 2004, Deborah Snow and Barbara White compiled a local “dream team” to remodel the deteriorating town hall. Jeremy Toal and Scott Baum of Turtle Island Design (Montague, MA), Laurie Frazier of Cobalt Design Studio (Northampton, MA) and Stephen Greenwald of Renaissance Builders (Gill, MA) came together to transform the classic New England building into a well-appointed fine dining restaurant.

Visit here for photos of the remodel.


Hampshire Gazette
Readers Choice Awards 2014-2023

Wine Spectator
Award of Excellence 2006-2020, 2023

Valley Advocate
Best of the Valley 2005-2023

James Beard Award
Semifinalist, Outstanding Restaurateur 2022

Certificate of Excellence 2012-2020

Couples’ Choice Award 2013-2016

Boston Magazine
Best of New England 2009 & 2010

Eater Boston
How to Spend a Day Eating and Drinking in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts,” February 2022

93.9 WRSI
Local Hero Spotlight,” January 2022
The Legend of Tomato Pie,” September 2020

The Greenfield Recorder
Lowcountry cuisine comes to Blue Heron,” October 2017

10 Best Dining Experiences of 2015,” December 2015
Chef Justin Mosher returns to the Pioneer Valley,” March 2015

Bub Gourmand
Blue Heron. Sunderland, MA,” August 2015

Preview Massachusetts
Cuisine on Wings,” January 2014
“Flying High,” September 2006

Find of the Week,” May 2013

Curve Magazine
Must-Eat Massachusetts,” November 2012

Yankee Magazine
Recipe for Entertaining,”  March/April 2011

Bon Appétit Magazine
Top Secrets,”  September 2006

About us