New York City chef and restaurateur James Kent dies aged 45

 (Getty Images for NYCWFF)
(Getty Images for NYCWFF)

Renowned New York City chef James Kent has died at the age of 43.

Saga Hospitality Group, the holding company of Kent’s two Manhattan restaurants, announced his death in a statement posted to Instagram over the weekend.

“We are heartbroken to share that James Kent passed away unexpectedly earlier today,” the caption of the post, which featured a picture of Kent in his chef’s uniform, read.

Speaking to The Independent, a representative for Saga Hospitality Group revealed that Kent died of an acute health crisis. However, the cause of death of still not known.

“The Saga Hospitality Group family is focused on supporting each other and most importantly Kelly, Gavin, and Avery as we grieve James’ loss,” the caption of the company’s Instagram post continued, referring to Kent’s wife and their two children.

The post also noted that Kent’s three establishments –  Crown Shy, Saga, and Overstory – were closed on June 16, while encouraging people to “celebrate Father’s Day with [their] loved ones.”

In the comments, many New York City-based businesses and customers of Kent’s restaurants expressed how saddened they were by his passing, and sent their condolences to his family.

“Completely heartbroken and devastated. Chef, thank you for the miles, the guidance, the laughs, for sitting with us at dinner to share stories of your grandma’s cooking, for letting us into your kitchen, your home, and your heart,” Bandit running store wrote. “We’ll cherish those memories forever. They don’t make them like you anymore.”

“So stunned, we were just together a week ago,” renowned chef Philip Tessier wrote. “At the top of the world, literally and figuratively. Jamal was the absolute best, can’t find the words for this. Praying for you and the kids Kelly.”

Magazine editor Nilou Motamed added: “In total shock and broken-hearted. All the goodness rolled into one exceptionally talented human. NYC has lost a legend. We love you, James. Rest in Power.”

In New York City, Kent owned two Michelin-starred restaurants, Saga and Crown Shy, both of which share the same building in the Financial District of Manhattan. He also owns a cocktail bar, Overstory, also in the same building.

He had plans to expand his career, as The New York Times reported in April that he and Saga Hospitality Group leased 3,000 square feet of space from Two Trees Management. The space was on the ground floor of the former Domino Sugar refinery, and Kent was planning to turn it into a bakery and a casual restaurant.

Following the news of Kent’s death, many of his colleagues also took to Instagram to honor him. Harrison Ginsberg, the bar director for Kent’s three Manhattan spots, shared a photo with the late chef and their friends, alongside a lengthy tribute.

“Chef, Thank you for all the memories, laughs, meals, and lessons,” he wrote in the caption. “I was always in awe of how much you supported me, my career, the bar industry. You became a fixture in the Global Bar Community. You didn’t have to do this, but you did it for us, because you wanted us to succeed.”

Harrison went on to express what he admired most about Kent, as well as the gratitude he had for their friendship.

“It’s like you had a sixth sense at times. You’d always look me in the eye and tell me you were there for me, as a friend, as a brother. That’s just who you were. That’s who you were to all of us,” he concluded. “You didn’t have friends. You had family. Thanks for allowing me to be a part of your family. I appreciate every moment I had with you. James, I’ll forever remember the lessons you taught me. I’ll forever hold myself to a higher standard.

The Independent has contacted the Saga Hospitality Group for comment.