He was a busboy, a bar back, a food runner and a restaurant parking lot attendant all before landing his first cooking job, and all before getting his driver’s license. Today, Jamie Knott is the Executive Chef and owner of two high profile New Jersey restaurants – The Saddle River Inn, which received an excellent in The New York Times and the newly-opened Cellar335.
His teenage jobs aside, Jamie’s culinary education really began after graduating high school. He moved to Boston with his older brother and worked as a line cook at a Spanish tapas lounge called Sophia’s. A couple of years later, he returned to Nutley, New Jersey, and enrolled in the Culinary Management Program at New York Restaurant School (NYRS). While still a student, he landed a job at Manhattan’s Café Centro, a prominent French Bistro in Grand Central Station. Under the tutelage of Chef Frank Deletrain, Jamie rose through the ranks from an extern peeling potatoes, to the oyster station, and the amuse-bouche station, before becoming Sous Chef, all within 16 months and all by the time he turned 21. While Jamie was able to hone his skills at Café Centro, he credits Chef Deletrain with helping him develop something just as important – his “culinary backbone.” Jamie worked with Deletrain at two other restaurants – Nick & Steph’s Steakhouse and Brasserie 8 ½ – before joining up with friend and former NYRS alum Ryan DePersio at DePersio’s new restaurant Fascino in Montclair. Jamie served as Sous Chef there for three years before taking another sous position in New York City.
Prior to opening Saddle River Inn in January of 2013, Jamie worked at Salute!, and befriended Bradley Day, the Executive Chef at Asia de Cuba, whom he followed to China Grill where Jamie later became the Executive Chef. Jamie was then called to oversee the opening of Ed’s Chowder House with Chef Ed Brown, as well as the food operations for the Empire Hotel. After moving on from China Grill and the hotel, Jamie became the Executive Chef for the highly-regarded French bistro, Artisanal. Chef Clifford Crooks, who Jamie met while working at Salute!, recruited Jamie to the BLT Group as a Corporate Chef, where Jamie oversaw five different restaurants (BLT Steak, BLT Burger, BLT Fish, Casa Nonna, and the Eventi Hotel.)
Jamie currently lives in Nutley, New Jersey, with his wife Crista and their three children – Jaeden (8), Brandon (5), and Brooklyn (2). He credits his grandmother with giving him the understanding and ability to feed people. Having spent a fair amount of time at her home when he was younger, Jamie remembers his grandmother always having four pots on the stove to feed the hungry lot. “It was at her house that I began to grasp how family, community, and food work together,” he says. “It’s really the cornerstone of who I am.”