Jimmy Kennedy: Professional Fisherman, Professional Chef
He’s a self-taught professional cook, an entrepreneur and restaurateur, a champion bass fisherman who teaches fishing to kids, a TV personality, a pianist, an artist and an all-around amateur athlete. And what this Vermont-by-way-of-Mississippi Renaissance man can do best is tell wonderful stories and enliven, even excite any on-air interview. Upon graduation from the University of Mississippi, Jimmy worked as a legislative assistant to a Mississippi congressman. But his love as a competitive bass fisherman preceded him to Washington, and led to an appointment to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, where he met people interested in promoting Southern catfish to Northern restaurants. Jimmy moved to New York and began distributing “Mississippi Gourmet Catfish,” which was soon the new “in-thing.” He became a start-up partner in two of the hot NYC restaurants of the 1980s: Acme Bar & Grill in trendy SOHO and Nadine’s. “Crazy,” he now says of that time, “absolutely crazy – and more fun than I’d ever had in my life.” Jimmy, a professional bass fisherman since his teens, competes on the B.A.S.S. and FLW circuits, has been a featured guest on “Charlie Moore Outdoors,” and been featured in national outdoor publications. In 1986 he discovered Vermont – and bass fishing in Lake Champlain. You’d never know it from his Mississippi accent, but Jimmy Kennedy is now a real Vermonter. He’s a “Let’s Go Fishing” instructor with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Service, founder of the Twinfield High School Fishing Club, and a mentor for other high school programs. And he’s developing a TV series for fishing and cooking with kids. “Welcome to our new restaurant – the cook didn’t show up.” Cooking? Jimmy opened River Run restaurant in Plainfield, VT, in 1991, but on opening day, the cook didn’t show up. “Somebody had to do it,” he remembers. “I learned home cooking from my Mom, had always liked to cook, it came naturally, and so I just did it.” 19 years later, the 5-table, 25-guest-maximum River Run has become a much bigger, professionally-staffed Vermont tourist attraction, “Mississippi home-cook” Jimmy Kennedy’s River Run Cookbook: Southern Comfort from Vermont, has been a national best-seller, and Jimmy himself has won national culinary awards and appeared on the Food Network and “New England Cooks.” Not bad for a substitute chef.
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