Fluffy pillows of Parisian-style gnocchi, made from a classic pâte à choux dough, surprise you with their color. Nestled amid sautéed ribbons of heirloom Bradford collards, spring peas, and silky sweet-corn cream, the gnocchi take on a golden hue, owing to the local corn flour component from Colonial Milling. As delicious as it is lovely, this dish exemplifies the contemporary spins on time-honored Southern recipes that can be expected from Chef de Cuisine Jamie Cribb at The Kennedy in Spartanburg.

The newest venture by chef and restaurateur William Cribb (of Cribbs Kitchen) and his business partner, Raj Patel, The Kennedy cuts an Art Deco figure worthy of a spot on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach. Inside the handsome 66-seat space (once occupied by Renato’s restaurant), hand-antiqued glass panels and a black-and-white color scheme dream up a casual-chic vibe. Horizontal bands and rounded lines recall the Streamline Moderne style of the 1930s that took its inspiration from the trains, planes, and ocean liners of that era.

The youngest of four Cribb siblings, all of whom are in the restaurant business, Jamie launched his career washing dishes at the Spring Street location of Cribb’s Kitchen in 2008. After working his way up the line, he left for Columbia, where he was beguiled by the farm-to-table concept. Family summoned him back to Spartanburg to help open Willy Taco, another of William’s projects. But tacos proved unsatisfying for the fledgling chef, and he eventually flew off to Charleston to do a stage with Jacques Larson at Wild Olive.

Jamie thrived at Wild Olive, where the staff was required to execute everything at a high level constantly. “I loved the pressure, I loved the heat, I loved how everybody meshed as a team,” he recalls. William called him home again after two years, excited about a new project he and Patel were hatching. Enticed by the prospect of having creative freedom to design small plates from farm-fresh ingredients, Jamie signed on, and The Kennedy opened in May.

The young chef pays homage to his family’s traditional Southern food roots by crafting what he calls “New American cuisine with some crazy twists.” Case in point is his charred octopus, plated with stewed butterbeans, tomatoes, and okra reminiscent of the butterbean stew he ate at home as a boy. To bring his version up to date, Jamie adds celery root purée and crispy sunchoke chips.

He is also perfecting a peach cobbler panna cotta that kindles memories of the cobbler his mom made when he was young. He steeps the cream with vanilla and cinnamon and serves it with oven-roasted peaches, peach syrup, and a crumble like the one his mom made to top her cobbler.

Jamie relishes the opportunity to help open up the food scene in his hometown. He loves forging relationships with local farmers and is proud of the fact that more than 90 percent of his summer menu ingredients are locally sourced.

“It’s cool to see how much love and support we’ve received from the community,” the chef reports. “Diners leave with smiles on their faces.”
It’s cuisine that Spartanburg is hungry for.

The Kennedy, 221 E Kennedy St, Spartanburg; (864) 586-5554, thekennedysc.com