Master Farm-To-Table Fare With Chef Jamie Kennedy
Long before “farm-to-table” entered the foodie vernacular, chef Jamie Kennedy was growing fruits and vegetables, and raising livestock to serve in some of his celebrated Toronto restaurants, which include Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar, Gilead Café and Wine Bar, and J.K. ROM and J.K. at the Gardiner. After 40 years as one of our country’s most influential chefs, a recipient of the Order of Canada, an author and entrepreneur, Jamie left the city behind to focus on life in the county.
It was here on J.K. Farm in the heart of Prince Edward County’s wine country that we visited Jamie to watch him cook this menu of updated French classics in the stunning new kitchen addition he and his partner, landscape architect Victoria Taylor, created with the help of architect Vanessa Fong, and to hear him muse on the history of this once-quiet farming region, now transformed into a trendy wine destination.
Jamie and very good boy, Champ, walk beside the barn turned event space. “I understand why Prince Edward County is such an important region,” he says. “There’s something special about the soil. The first time I came here in the 1990s, I stopped at a roadside stand and bought a head of lettuce. It was the best-tasting lettuce I’d ever had.”
While his Toronto restaurants are closed, life in the country is far from a first step toward retirement. “I’m not looking to slow down. Oh no, no — au contraire,” he says. “I’m just looking at things in a different way. Now, cooking is more of a lifestyle than a career.”
Outfitted with an oversized island and large pendant lighting, the kitchen is an ideal spot for prepping Jamie’s farm-to-table feasts.
To accommodate his tall frame, Jamie had the counters built higher than usual. The floor behind the island is made from recycled wine corks.
Seasons, which was published in 2000, celebrates local, seasonal Canadian cuisine.
This cocktail was created using cider from The Old Third vineyard and bitters from Kinsip House of Fine Spirits, both nearby. “Smaller wineries in the county have discovered they need to diversify, so they make cider — it has a quicker turnaround than wine,” says Jamie.
Get the recipe for Cider Cocktail.
“I like to surprise, and this is a dish that shows people that ingredients like artichokes, traditionally grown elsewhere, can actually be grown here,” he says.
Get the recipe for Crispy Artichoke Salad With Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Fondue.
“The garlic, greens and chilis all came from my home farm,” says Jamie. “I love the contrast of the chili oil and garlic against the Tuscan kale.”
Get the recipe for Steamed Greens With Chili Oil & Toasted Garlic.
“This is a more traditional coq au vin, except that I use an Ontario wine from the hybrid varietal Baco Noir,” he explains.
Get the recipe for Coq Au Vin.
“This is a cook’s dessert,” says Jamie. “As a chef, I usually think a lot about presentation, so I tend to go for desserts that are plated rather than cakes or pastries. This is easy to make — no pastry — and you can cook it right before you serve it.”
Get the recipe for Fruit Gratiné With Southbrook Frambroise Sabayon & Chocolate Sauce.