Kennedy boys to serve their father’s famed braised-beef poutine at #TGCCF

Chef Jamie Kennedy elevates poutine to a fine-dining experience.

When your father is one of Canada’s most renowned chefs, a passion for food and an appreciation for the restaurant industry come naturally. Nile and Jackson Kennedy grew up around the celebrated kitchens of their father, chef Jamie Kennedy, Canada’s first celebrity chef and a pioneer of the local food movement. But being the chef’s sons earned them no special treatment, as they worked their way through various positions within Kennedy’s restaurants.

“We’ve been working with my dad for a really long time now,” said Nile, 22. “We started by going to events and doing small jobs to just get a sense of what he did.”

Nile got his start in the family business at age 17, working in coat check during private events at the Gardiner Museum, where Jamie Kennedy then ran the venue’s fine dining restaurant and catered on-site weddings and other special events.

From there, Nile worked his way up to become an event server at the Gardiner and then an a la carte server at Kennedy’s Gilead Café, the chef’s last Toronto restaurant, which closed its doors in 2015.

Nile and Jackson Kennedy will serve J.K. Fries in addition to braised-beef poutine at #TGCCF.

Working in his father’s restaurants taught Nile a great deal about the industry and allowed him to spend plenty of quality time with his dad outside the house.

“Working with my Dad has always been great,” said Nile, “It wasn’t really like a typical working relationship. We would be cracking jokes with each other, and it was really positive. I’ve learned a lot working with him.”

For the past two summers, Nile and his brother Jackson, 26, have operated J.K. Fries, a mobile French fry kitchen they run at events and farmers’ markets around Toronto. J.K. Fries offers Chef Kennedy’s signature double-fried French fries, made with local Yukon Gold potatoes, fresh thyme and sea salt. The fries are always made entirely on site, for the freshest, crispiest snack possible.

This summer, J.K. Fries is setting up shop in Prince Edward County, offering its famous fries at events in the region all season long. For Nile and Jackson, this means a break from city life, and a chance to slow down and take a well-deserved break at the Kennedy farm in the County.

“This summer will still be about work, but we also wanted to take a step back, get out of the city and go to our farm,” Nile explained of the move. “We’ll work up there, and also take up any projects and hobbies we’ve really wanted to do. It’s an exploratory summer in that sense and we’ve both been excited about it for a long time.”

Chef Jamie Kennedy works his magic in the converted barn on his farm in Prince Edward County.

The brothers are looking to discover new interests outside the restaurant business, including learning to craft handmade utility knives using wood and metal found around the family farm. With the help of YouTube, they plan to teach themselves to build a forge and try their hands at knife making during their down time.

The Kennedy brothers will bring a special version of the J.K. Fries stand to The Great Canadian Cheese Festival on June 3-4, with a braised-beef poutine, an artful take on the iconic, indulgent dish that his father made famous when he became the first Canadian chef to introduce poutine on a fine-dining menu.

“It’s an elevated version of the classic Quebecois poutine,” Nile explains. “We use braised, tender beef in a thick, salty, flavourful gravy and in place of cheese curds we’re using an aged cheddar from Monforte Dairy, who make a really nice cow’s milk cheddar.”

The Kennedy boys will be serving up the braised-beef poutine and the fries at the Festival’s Artisan Food Court on both Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm.

Meanwhile, Jamie Kennedy is hosting a fabulous feast at his Prince Edward County Farm on Saturday evening as part of his popular Summer Dinner Series. Award-winning cheesemakers Jean Morin and Marie-Chantal Houde will be among the lucky 55 guests—with their fromage featured on the cheese plate.

Jackson Kennedy tosses double-fried French fries, made with local Yukon Gold potatoes, fresh thyme and sea salt.

When he’s not slinging their much-loved poutine dishes to hungry festival-goers, Nile is eager to explore what’s new at this year’s Festival. He’s attended the past few years both to work and to observe.

“What’s great about the Cheese Festival, especially with all these local producers coming, people can taste all these amazing cheeses and it gives them ideas about what’s possible,” Nile said.

“More and more these days, people are interested in sourcing locally, but they might not realize how much is available and how many varieties are available so close to home. The Festival is great for that.”

—Phoebe Powell, senior roving reporter at, is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her last blog post was on La Moutonnière: Happy sheep make award-winning cheese.




Cheese lovers love the County as Festival venue


Cheese lovers have expressed strong support for Prince Edward County as the ideal venue for The Great Canadian Cheese Festival.

  • In a January survey, 96% of attendees at the 2012 event said they would return to Picton for another Cheese Festival, while 90% of those who have never attended, said they would attend in the future.
  • Meanwhile, only 50% would attend a Cheese Festival in Toronto, 35% in Ottawa, and 28% in Montreal.

“Needless to say, there is no change in our commitment to produce Canada’s only annual celebration of artisan cheese in an appealing small-town, out-in-the-country setting that has been the Festival’s home since its inception,” says Georgs Kolesnikovs, event founder and director.

The third annual Great Canadian Cheese Festival will take place June 1-2 in Crystal Palace on the Prince Edward Fairgrounds in Picton, in the heart of Prince Edward County, Ontario. Cheese tours and a cooking class will be offered on Friday, May 31.

Earlybird ticket sales are under way at at

Prince Edward County is an appealing destination for cheese and food lovers for many reasons,” says Kolesnikovs. “The awesome array of wineries is a huge draw. The range of artisan food producers is quite impressive for such a small region.

“Soon, the County will again be a significant force in artisan cheesemaking. Award-winning Fifth Town Artisan Cheese will resume production later this year under new ownership, and a newcomer, County Cheese Company, aims to start production this summer. Of course, Black River Cheese has been in business in the County since 1901.”

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival is a multi-faceted, two-day event that annually attracts thousands of consumers to meet, learn, taste and buy the best in artisan cheese and fine foods and sample fine wine, craft beer and crisp cider. Dairy Farmers of Canada is the lead sponsor, presenting seminars throughout the day in the All You Need Is Cheese® Annex.

The Artisan Cheese & Fine Food Fair features a Dairy Farm display for the enjoyment of young and old. Also on the program are Tutored Tastings where experts offer guidance on a variety of cheese topics.

The Cheese Festival also features a special Saturday evening social functions. Winners of the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix are on the menu as the cheese course at Gastronomy on the Farm with Jamie Kennedy.

Last year, close to 100 exhibitors and vendors and more than 3,000 consumers made the event the largest cheese show in Canada representing producers from coast to coast. One-third of the participating cheese producers come from Québec.


Amazing chefs + amazing cheese = awesome tasting dishes

Chef Jamie Kennedy serves Braised Oxtail Poutine with two Black River cheddars at the Cooks & Curds Gala at the inaugural Great Canadian Cheese Festival in 2011.

The Cooks & Curds Gala is the culinary and social highlight of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival held annually in Picton, Ontario, in the heart of Prince Edward County.

Eight leading chefs from across Canada use Canadian cheeses to create tasting dishes that are paired with Canadian wine, craft beer and cider. The strolling dinner on Saturday evening, June 2, concludes with an after-dinner cheese board presented by Dairy Farmers of Canada, sweets, sparkling wine, ice wine, port, coffee and tea.

From British Columbia to Newfoundland, here are the Gala chefs:

Jimmy Stewart, Bearfoot Bistro, Whistler, British Columbia

Top Chef Canada contestant Jimmy Stewart is the sous chef at the Bearfoot Bistro in Whistler, British Columbia. With strong beliefs in foraging and a love for Canadian products and ingredients, he is driven by modern Canadian cuisine.

Top Chef Canada contestant Jimmy Stewart of Whistler, B.C.

Talia Syrie, The Tallest Poppy, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Classically trained in her grandmother’s kitchen, Talia Syrie’s nouveau Baba-style deli food combines the traditional Shtetl recipes of her people and the southern country cooking that she loves.  Hailing from the North End of Winnipeg Talia’s intimate café, The Tallest Poppy, is loved by the community.

Jamie Kennedy, Jamie Kennedy Kitchens, Toronto

For over three decades, Jamie Kennedy has been instrumental in shaping the culinary landscape in Canada. His innovative approach to gastronomy, commitment to sustainable agriculture and advocacy of local food have been unwavering.

Chef Kennedy has applied the slow food philosophy in every aspect of his acclaimed restaurants and his flourishing catering business. His seasonal methods of cooking and involvement with the local food movement continue to inspire progress in agricultural and gastronomical communities across Canada.

Michael Blackie, National Arts Centre, Ottawa

Born in Leicestershire, England, and raised in Montreal, Quebec, Chef Michael Blackie has been cooking for 25 years on three continents. Among his many career highlights, Chef Blackie held executive sous chef and acting chef positions at the prestigious and world-renowned Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong. He joined the artistic leadership team at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa three years ago.

A unique feta and elk dish created by Chef Blackie expressly for The Great Canadian Cheese Festival was voted the most popular dish by close to 400 guests at the inaugural Cooks & Curds Gala in 2011.

Marc Cohen, Lawrence, Montreal

Originally from the U.K., Marc Cohen studied cooking at Leiths School of Food and Wine in London. After moving to Montreal, Marc quickly established himself on the city’s culinary scene running the kitchen at The Sparrow before opening Lawrence in 2010. Chef Cohen emphasizes the use of sustainable products from local farmers, in-house butchery and nose-to-tail cooking.

Top Chef Canada contestant Francois Gagnon of Montreal.

Francois Gagnon, Ædifica, Montreal

Top Chef Canada contestant François Gagnon, a seasoned chef who has worked in top restaurants in Quebec, France and Vancouver, currently is private chef for Ædifica, a prestigious architectural firm in Montreal, where the design culture stimulates his use of color, texture, technique and flavours to produce visually and conceptually inspiring meals daily.

Just before joining Ædifica in 2011, Chef Gagnon took part in the first season of Top Chef Canada on the Food Network, finishing in the top 5. In the future, he plans to partner in the opening of a gourmet sandwich shop in downtown Montreal.

Domenic Serio, Inn at Bay Fortune, Bay Fortune, Prince Edward Island

For more 20 years, the Inn At Bay Fortune has been serving its guests the best that Prince Edward Island has to offer.

Chef Domenic Serio and Team Cuisine draw heavily on the Inn’s extensive herb and vegetable garden ensuring fresh and season driven cuisine. As well as working directly with local farmers, Chef Serio can be seen at the Charlottetown and Cardigan Farmers Market taking advantage of all the wonderful organic produce that is available. Together, this all adds up to a truly remarkable dining experience where guest get to enjoy Chef’s and his team’s passion for true farm-to-table cooking.

Katie Hayes, Bonavista Social Club, Upper Amherst Cove, Newfoundland

The Bonavista Social Club, located in the small community of Upper Amherst Cove on the Bonavista Peninsula, harnesses the established farm gardens, animal husbandry and self-sufficient lifestyle at work in Upper Amherst Cove to provide a truly unique experience of rural Newfoundland. The restaurant is home to the only commercial wood-fired bread oven in Newfoundland and Labrador. The bread oven is the centrepiece of an open kitchen.

The eight chefs have been selected and announced. Now starts the much-anticipated challenge for event organizers to match and pair the chefs and their ideas for tasting dishes with the most appropriate cheeses from the Canadian producers featured at the Festival. Karin Desveaux is the Festival’s executive director, Ivy Knight is chef co-ordinator and Jackie Armet is cheese co-ordinator. Menu details will be announced as soon they become available, with recommended wine pairings by David Lawrason.

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival is produced by Cheese Lover Productions with the generous support of Celebrate Ontario. Dairy Farmers of Canada is Diamond Sponsor, Ontario’s Artisan Food and Beverage Region (FAB) is Gold Sponsor. A portion of Festival proceeds will benefit a Cheese Scholarship Fund to encourage young Canadians to pursue careers in cheese.

Advance tickets are sold online at In order to assure a high-quality experience for chefs and guests, Cheese Gala ticket sales will be limited, so don’t delay in ordering tickets by clicking here.