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CHEF | OWNER
With a combination of twenty-five years of culinary experience James has deep respect for customer service and the hospitality business. He is a Culinary Institute of America graduate and also holds a Hotel, Restaurant & Institutions Management degree.
From a Gourmet Market to a Full-Blown Restaurant in Kent: Gifford’s Part 2
What is de rigueur is that the ingredients be fresh and in season. Mr. Neunzig said that he called a fish dealer at 4:30 a.m. Honolulu time and was serving the fish he ordered 24 hours later in Kent. “The logistics of how he gets it to me in 24 hours is amazing to me,” he said.
The owners have quickly gathered accolades for their efforts. An early reviewer on TripAdvisor said, “This is easily the best restaurant in Kent and the surrounding area. I’ve made the 35 minute drive three times since they opened just recently. … The staff is professional and the food is fabulous. I’ve had both their steak and seafood and they excel in both.”
Shopkeepers and Now Restaurateurs, Too
As co-owners of a specialty food store, J.P. Gifford Market and Catering Company (around the corner on North Main Street), Mr. Moriarty and Mr. Neunzig would seem to have the right pedigree for operating an upscale, white-tablecloth restaurant. The focus is on New American cuisine.
Mr. Neunzig is also the chef — he graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and previously worked at the Mayflower Inn in Washington, Conn., and the West Street Grill in Litchfield — and his attention to detail is evident in his reliance on high-end provisioners like Black Pearl, Mountain Products Smokehouse, Compart Duroc pork and FreeBird chicken.
Gifford’s jazzy style a win Kent
“Most of the wait staff and the pastry chef were with me at my former restaurant, Moosilauke,” Neunzig said. “It’s a great, experienced staff who have been serving for a long time.”
Bringing in a longtime staff has paid off in patron satisfaction. George Kenna recalled that opening night at Gifford’s in February.
“That first night I was there with a friend and you would have thought they had been open for three of four years. The service is great,” Kenna said. “What a wonderful place. Long overdue in town. I like that they change the menu regularly.”