Renowned New York Chef James Kent Dies At 45

James Kent, a successful New York City chef and restaurateur, died on Saturday.
James Kent, a successful New York City chef and restaurateur, died on Saturday. Kris Connor via Getty Images

James Kent, a celebrated chef and New York City restaurateur, died on Saturday, his hospitality group announced.

“We are heartbroken to share that James Kent passed away unexpectedly earlier today,” Saga Hospitality Group, the holding company of his Manhattan venues Crown Shy, Saga and Overstory, posted on Instagram Saturday.

“The Saga Hospitality Group family is focused on supporting each other and most importantly Kelly, Gavin and Avery as we grieve James’ loss,” it continued, referencing Kent’s wife, Kelly Kent, and two children.

“Celebrate Father’s Day with your loved ones,” the statement concluded.

Kent’s cause of death was not disclosed.

The New York native, born Jamal James Kent, owned two Michelin-starred restaurants, Saga and Crown Shy, which shared a building with his award-winning cocktail bar, Overstory, in downtown Manhattan.

Earlier this month, Eater New York reported that Kent’s Saga group was planning to open five new restaurants in 2025 in partnership with Paris luxury department store Printemps. He was also working on an expansion of his business to include a seafood restaurant on Park Avenue and a bakery in Brooklyn, according to Eater.

Harrison Ginsberg, the bar director for Kent’s trio of Manhattan venues, paid tribute to the chef on Instagram.

“Thank you for all the memories, Laughs, meals, and lessons,” he wrote. “I was always in awe of how much you supported me, my career, the bar industry.”

“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,” he added. “James, I’ll forever remember the lessons you taught me. I’ll forever hold myself to a higher standard.”

Numerous high-profile chefs and restaurant industry insiders also expressed grief and shared memories.

“It is not that the world lost someone special, we lost a giant, please pray for his family, continue to tell stories about him, he would want that,” posted Gavin Kaysen, an award-winning chef and restaurant founder.

“He would want you to play biggie as loud as you can in your restaurant, he would want you to laugh at yourself and he would want you to be you, Jamal was always him, it was the trait I loved about him the most.”