Chef Jamie Kennedy is our neighbor in Prince Edward County. During the warmer months, he hosts a popular Saturday night dinner series that is both legendary and enlightening. It has a certain exclusivity in that it generally sells out quickly—even at $250 per person—making it a lucky break that we managed to slide in at the last minute.
Jamie’s menus highlight the freshness of local ingredients paired with (mostly) local wineries. Every week brings a whole new menu and winery pairing, presented at communal tables either outdoors or inside the rustic Loyalist barn on his Hillier property.
Though it was a decision made on the spur of the moment, the event did not disappoint. Mike, Quintin, and I attended, and I was lucky enough to find a last-minute babysitter for Audrey.
Despite JKs track record of maintaining a high level of service and excellence in the culinary realm, I wouldn’t say that everything went as planned.
First off, it was overbooked, so they set up a special VIP table for us just outside of the main event space. We were seated with a couple we had only just met, Candy and George. Though it was impromptu, we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. The evening temperature was perfect, there were hardly any bugs, and we had lots of opportunity to talk and could actually hear ourselves think.
Inside the barn, long, communal harvest tables were set for their 50 “other” guests. The old barn has been restored beautifully, with an open kitchen off to one side. Fairy lights lit up some of the space and made for a very intimate and romantic setting. It felt like the hippest place to be that night, as many of the guests traveled there from remote parts of Ontario and even the United States – an impressive gathering of dedicated foodies, all focused on a common interest: the alchemy of food and wine, and the enigmatic culinary force that is Jamie Kennedy.
Candy and George
Now, let me tell you a little bit about our new friends, Candy and George. We met them that very night at the event. They are a married couple in their 50s, and for both of them, this is their second marriage. Candy told us about the interesting relationship they’ve had so far; given that they came together straight out of other relationships, they were more established in life, and have truly been able to settle into a groove, having a common interest in the finer things that life has to offer. They’ve been on dream vacations, tasted food and wine from around the world, and it was pretty obvious that they had a great deal of passion and respect for one another. It was very sweet!
Candy and George are both successful and accomplished. They came into the marriage with their own properties and a hell of a lot of life experience. One of the first questions I asked them, after I got to know them better, was what tips they would offer to help other couples have a loving and lasting relationship. Candy quickly stated how important it was to them to be involved in each-others’ lives, to participate in activities together, and to do their best to support one another. Their love was so transparent. I could see that they made an honest effort to live life with, and for, one another.
As for Candy’s advice, it all sounded so obvious, so “of course”, but I know from experience (from the industry that I’m in) that so many married couples live separate lives from their partner. Placing the needs of the couple before the needs of the individual is not a natural way of living for everybody. It takes work, but the payoff is well worth the effort if this happy couple is any indication.
Candy and George had learned of Jamie Kennedy many years ago when they were on a trip to Toronto (did I mention they are from Michigan?). They were shopping in downtown Toronto and asked the sales associate if he had any restaurant recommendations. He immediately told them about Jamie Kennedy’s restaurant, which, at the time, was just around the corner from where they were. They took his advice and had the most fabulous dinner they had ever experienced. From that moment on, they were Jamie Kennedy devotees. They’ve been to his restaurants as well as many of his events, and also visited Prince Edward County to help him harvest his hobby Vineyard. He has been part of their relationship for many years, a very important part.
I found it fascinating that they’ve followed Jamie around as they have. Did they love his food? Absolutely! But it seemed to me that what they were really hooked on was the experiences he offered them. They felt appreciated.
I just loved hearing how Jamie’s food and those experiences have fueled their love. It was simply remarkable to hear their story. I reckon if Jamie Kennedy had an event on the moon, there would be nothing that would stop George and Candy from being there.
As for us, it’s pretty special having a celebrity chef like Jamie Kennedy in our neck of the woods. PEC is still really an up-and-coming wine community. There are currently 48 wineries here, and just this past year we welcomed 9 new microbreweries. A lot of people still don’t know a lot about it, being more familiar with Niagara and the hundreds of wines that are produced there.
It’s exciting to be part of a community that is still in a nascent stage – growing, evolving, and building an amazing reputation for itself with each passing year. With so many boutique wineries, craft brewers, fabulous restaurants, and white sandy beaches, it’s simply paradise.