On the heels of more “best of” awards and rave review from the New York Times, The Copper Beech Inn’s executive chef, Noel Jones, has announced he is moving on into a private kitchen.
Jones, who set the bar for eclectic, gourmet dining at On20 in Hartford and earthier, home cooking at the inn’s Brasserie Pip, has accepted a job as a private chef for a longtime customer.
“It’s a new opportunity” said Jones who left On20 last summer and then took over the kitchen at the landmark Ivoryton restaurant. “I’m doing it because it was an opportunity that presented itself, it is a time for me to do something totally different and this made total sense.”
Jones, considered a celebrity chef who has received dozens of awards and exposure for his culinary skills, declined to identify his new employer except to say that he is a Connecticut business executive who has been a longtime fan.
Jones said the new position will not only allow more flexibility and a gentler work schedule, but will also allow him to do the kind of cooking he likes best.
“I won’t have to worry about the business side, just the cooking,” said Jones, “I can decide what I am going to cook that day and go to the farm and local vendors for what I need, similar to what I did in Ireland when I worked at a very small restaurant there.”
It will also afford Jones another opportunity as well.
“I want to do more charitable work and the new work schedule will allow me to do that,”said Jones, who brother, diagnosed with leukemia, is recovering from a bone marrow transplant. Jones was the donor.
“I want to do more fundraisers for people with cancer,” he said. “I know what a financial drain that can be on a family. Insurance doesn’t cover everything,” he said. “I don’t want this to sound like some Hollywood story. I’m not looking for kudos. Just something I want to do.”
Jones said he will be at Copper Beech for a couple more weeks and that he is leaving behind a kitchen team that can step up until someone else is hired to take his place.
“And I have to say one thing,” he insisted as he takes his talent private after so many years in the public eye. “I am so honored and happy that I was able to treat people to really great food and memories,” he said. “For those who did not have a good experience with my food, I am sorry for that. As a chef, I would drive home at night and if there was a negative comment about the food, that is the one I would think about and how to make it better.”
So will Jones ever come back to restaurant life?
“Never say never,” he said. “I am temporarily closing the door.”