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Jamie Kennedy dishes on his plans for 2011 and beyond

Jamie Kennedy sports a new ’do at his flagship Gilead Bistro (Image: Davida Aronovitch)

Recently, rumours were brewing that chef Jamie Kennedy was looking to buy Prince Edward County’s culinary jewel, Harvest. While Kennedy confirms that he was approached by Harvest’s seller, he told us, “Considering everything that’s going on in my life, taking on something like Harvest is out of the question at this point.” Still, the rumour gave us an excuse to sit down with our locavore-in-chief to talk about what’s on his plate in 2011.

Kennedy has been back to basics since debt crippled his operation in 2008, but he says that 2010 was a big year for rebuilding. “We’re on the road to recovery,” he says from Gilead Bistro, now the focus of his business. “It’s a vote of confidence when people receive partial payments instead of apologies.”

If Kennedy’s name is on foodie lips, it’s no wonder: in the post-downsize days, JK has been tapping into social media to pump up the company name—his team tweets dozens of times daily to a following of more than 3,700. “We’re putting ourselves in front of people. In case there is any doubt about JK Kitchens.”

And while Kennedy isn’t acquiring Harvest, he still plans to open a restaurant at his farm in Prince Edward County, which he says won’t become just another overblown Niagara. “Everybody knows my intention there; it’s a matter of getting the funds.” The PEC enthusiast has already partnered with county favourite Rosehall Run on a wine, and plans to celebrate the local gastronomy of the emerging wine region at a farm-to-table restaurant. He’s looking forward to joining such county eateries as East and Main (“a remarkable place that’s become a destination in the county”), Schroedter’s (“it represents what rural outposts should be, in terms of hospitality”) and Keint-He, along with vineyards like Redtail and The Old Third.

“I’m really excited about breathing new life into the rural economy that has all but disappeared. It’s been shattered by factory farming.” But it will be some time before doors open on a new venture; Kennedy calls for a five-year plan to financial freedom. “The year 2010 represented the tip of the iceberg in terms of debt. It’s about getting the ship in the right direction. That was the work of 2010.”

  • Richard Parks

    ‘ “the rural economy…has all but disappeared. it’s been shattered by factory farming”
    I absolutely disagree with this statement. There is room
    for everyone to build a life in Prince Edward County. Please bring an open mind and a willingness to learn new ideas. Leave your pre conceived notions behind.
    “Factory farms” do not exist in Prince Edward County. Most are multi- generation farms- fathers , sons, grand sons making an honest living from land they have great respect for.

  • Craig

    Richard…I think you miss the point. I believe what Chef Kennedy was alluding to was that thanks to factory farms, there are no doubt far less “multi-generation farms.” This is a sad fact that reaches from coast to coast, Mexico to the Yukon.

  • m.banks

    AHH, the County! Mum has been a part of it for the past 30 years. She had the first proper B and B. Enroute magazine covered her establishment. With that said, why would any one want to blow life into Harvest? What needs to be done, is to get patrons out to the Country/County side !Like Cherry Valley/Rosehill/NorthPort..etc…. The County, by no means,begins and ends in Picton ! What the County will Embrase, is a small, well run establishment, that is completly self sustianing. Somewhere, that the local gentry will not be intimidated by, and should feel good about visiting. Just like Mr. Fred Weeks of Isaha Tubbsy’s,Jamies heart, is definatly in the right place, Prince Edward County ! All we look for , when it comes to dining in the County, is;honesty;good wine ;good food;reasonable prices;and the use of County produce.
    The County has no desire (thank god!) to become another Muskoka! The best and most consistant food in the County, can be found at the Wellington Grill. The County has many high end places, non of wich are consistant! There in lies the problem. I feel free to make these comments, as i spent years in the f/b industry,and finished up as a wine agent. I am familiar, with whom i call the group of 4… J.k,Mark Mc., Greg C, and Chris Mc.
    For that fact Brighton/Trenton/Bellville, are desparate for good eats! Bring it on Boys !!!!
    Welcome to the County J>K> !!! Best of Luck!!!