Home Food James Kent, Chef Who Was Building a Restaurant Empire, Dies at 45

James Kent, Chef Who Was Building a Restaurant Empire, Dies at 45

by белый

He had opened two restaurants and a cocktail bar in downtown Manhattan, and he was preparing for a big expansion backed by LeBron James.

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James Kent, a distinguished chef and successful Manhattan restaurateur who seemed poised to become a food-industry tycoon, died on Saturday. He was 45.

His death was announced by Saga Hospitality Group, the holding company of his two restaurants, Crown Shy and Saga, and his cocktail bar, Overstory, which are all in the same building in the Financial District of Manhattan. The statement did not specify where he died or the cause.

In 1993, when he was a 14-year-old growing up in Greenwich Village and already working at a restaurant, Mr. Kent’s mother made him knock on the door of their building’s newest resident — the celebrity chef David Bouley. The young man asked if he could spend time in Mr. Bouley’s kitchen. Mr. Bouley said yes. He spent the summer working at Bouley, the chef’s TriBeCa mainstay.

Before long, Mr. Kent was also working at famed New York City restaurants like Babbo, Jean-Georges, Eleven Madison Park and NoMad, where he became the executive chef.

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He opened his own restaurant, Crown Shy, in 2019 with a partner, Jeff Katz, the general manager of Del Posto, an Italian restaurant in Manhattan that closed in 2021. “At Crown Shy, the Only False Step Is the Name” read the headline of a “critic’s pick” review by Pete Wells, the restaurant critic of The New York Times. (The name refers to tall trees’ tendency not to allow their upper stories to grow entangled with the branches of their neighbors.)

Mr. Wells wrote that Mr. Kent’s dishes “regularly over-deliver.” He singled out for praise “an almost absurdly creamy purée of white bean hummus under a fiery red slick of melted ’nduja;” a beef tartare with toasted walnuts and rye croutons; and oysters served with “cucumber jelly, diced cucumbers, grains of jalapeño and microleaves of purple shiso.”

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