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Jamie Kennedy's Farewell Launch

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By James Geneau

What an interesting day.  One door closed and another opened for Jamie Kennedy and his Gardiner Café.  A landmark on Toronto’s dining scene for several years, it appears that the times have changed and the man behind the restaurant has had to adapt to what we all recognize as the worst recession in a lifetime.  At the beginning of the economic downturn, I wrote an article about what restaurants were doing at the time to “weather” the storm.  Everywhere you looked, chefs and restaurateurs were looking for cheaper ingredients and lower price-point dishes to accommodate the needs of a more price conscious consumer.  They did this by sacrificing the use of the local and the seasonal for lower-cost wholesale and mass-produced ingredients.  Jamie Kennedy has taken a refreshingly different direction.

With the end of dinner service at Jamie Kennedy at The Gardiner on June 7th of this year, many felt that Toronto’s dining scene was on its last legs.  What they did not realize was that this was the re-birth of a new age for dining in this city.  Many of you may think I am being a little dramatic here, but hear me out.

Jamie has decided to go in a different direction from the “other” restaurants I discussed in my earlier article.  Yes, the times have changed and the need to stay lean is real.  However, does this mean sacrificing ones values in the good food revolution?  When it comes to Jamie Kennedy and his support of local and sustainable food, absolutely not.

Today, he invited the media to a lunch where he unveiled his new Weekly Lunch Series with Jamie Kennedy, a 3-course prix fixe lunch using local and seasonal ingredients for $25.00 per person.  Wait a minute.  A locally-sourced prix fixe lunch for the same price as the “specials” offered during Summerlicious or Winterlicious?  How could this be?  Well, when you are passionate about your art and the values you have for supporting local food, anything is possible.  Jamie has sacrificed the costly dinner service to bring the freshest in local and seasonal ingredients to Torontonians in the form of an affordable and casual lunch experience.  He could have gone against his values and started spooning out all kinds of imported low-cost alternatives.  Instead, he stuck to his values and for this, Torontonians should be thrilled.

Beginning on Friday, June 26th, Jamie Kennedy at the Gardiner will also be opening its patio as an after-work playground.  Each and every Friday evening throughout the summer, they will serve small plates featuring the finest in local cuisine.  This will be provided along with a full bar service featuring Scotch Whiskey from "The Balvenie” and other seasonal cocktails.  Lunch with Jamie on Wednesdays.  Cocktails with Jamie on Fridays.  When it comes to getting my own weekly fix of local, fresh and seasonal food, this will do nicely.  Thank you Jamie for leading by example.  Good times are ahead for Toronto.




My hats of to you. You are a man of great conviction and an inspiration to all those that follow you. It takes a big man to stand up and expose ones self. In the midst of difficult times you embraced change while maintaing your phiosophy to improve the earth by continuing to support all things local.

I admire you for your courage and candidness.

I for one and many others belive in the long run and your success is continuing to be appreciated and your example as an entrepreneur emulated.

Your friend and admirer

Donald Ziraldo
Post Reply By James in ETOBICOKE on 6/12/2009 11:27:42 AM

What a refreshingly insightful and optimistic reading of the situation. James G. accurately captures the integrity and leadership that Jamie Kennedy has shown for so long in our local food culture. Mr. Kennedy's understanding of how our food choices affect local and global communities, and how that understanding obligates us to action, provide an example to us all. The values of modesty and frugality reflected in a more casual service style do not mitigate against putting delicious food on the plate. These same values are at the heart of all peasant cultures, those cultures whose preservation of genetic diversity and culinary traditions are at the heart of eating well.
Post Reply By Paul in YORK on 6/11/2009 9:51:57 PM

Always a silver lining--looks like I'm adding a new patio to my list this summer starting the 19th!! Cheers! : )
Post Reply By Kathleen in TORONTO on 6/11/2009 11:36:09 AM

Good for him, I like his attitude, the sky is NOT falling, and supporting local products helps our economy and challenges to alter our carbon footprint. Good luck, and good eating.
Bob C. MontrealQC
Post Reply By Bob in BROSSARD on 6/11/2009 11:03:37 AM

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