Origins of Jacob Kenedy

Childhood holidays spent on the Latina shoreline gave Jacob Kennedy an early admiration of Italian flavours, inspiring him ultimately to open London trio Bocca di Lupo, Gelupo and Plaquemine Lock

Origins of Jacob Kenedy Photo


One of my earliest memories is sitting on my grandfather’s lap. He was wearing an eye patch and pretending to be a pirate while he peeled and fed me boiled artichokes. I’m not sure whether it’s because of him or because they are so delicious but they’ve remained important to me and they’re a recurring ingredient in both Italian and American cooking.


They’ve been on the menus at both Bocca di Lupo and Plaquemine Lock, with the recipe coming from my paternal grandmother Agnes. She was a Hungarian Jew who fled during the Holocaust – it changed her relationship with food. She would put on huge spreads of delicious, sweet things but her doughnuts were the best of anyone in this world.


My grandparents bought a house in this town in the province of Latina, and we’d visit twice a year. It is just on the tip of the mozzarella-making region and the cafés would get still-warm deliveries twice a day. My days were spent eating gelato, fried calamari and pasta with clams by the beach – this simple seaside fare was utterly beautiful. It was an idyllic experience.


After having the most amazing meal there when they first opened, I joined in my gap year. The food was such an exciting symphony of flavours and textures, and I made Spanish-style clams, crab brik and rare beef salad with a sumac and red wine vinegar dressing. I still love it – I ate there for lunch today.

Nancy Oakes

When I left Moro, I went on to work at Boulevard in San Francisco under chef Nancy Oakes, who was a great mentor, so I was very lucky. She taught me about the origins of American cuisine and the journey from the family kitchen table to something quite innovative. By the end of my gap year, I was a chef.


My grandparents first settled there in 1952 and in my twenties I decided to spend a year travelling through Italy, with Rome as my base. I bought a one-way ticket and spent most of my time eating. I have a huge appreciation for Roman cuisine as a result, and you’ll find it disproportionately represented on the menus at Bocca di Lupo.

Zuppa coada

I ordered this dish in Treviso because it was unfamiliar to me and it completely changed my understanding of Italian cuisine. Assembled like a lasagne but with a different flavour profile, it’s layered with slices of bread, cabbage and braised pigeon spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, and finished with Parmigiana Reggiano. It’s specifically from that region and not like anything you would usually associate with Italian cuisine. I soon realised that Italian cooking is heavily regional, with each region having its own identity.

New Orleans

The first time I went was during the jazz festival. I was blind drunk the entire time – they really know how to drink in Louisiana. On returning trips, I learned how to cook po’ boy sandwiches, gumbo, dirty rice and jambalaya from my cousins. It’s such an enchanting place, where the Cajun and Creole flavours meld into one culture. The city brings together food, music and drink in a very harmonious way, and I wanted to recreate that experience at Plaquemine Lock.

Granny Ginny

She was an exceptional cook right up until the end of her life. She spoke with a slight southern accent that only intensified when she was tipsy. Her shrimp dish was my favourite and she would add a splash of brandy to the mayo. I’ve recently put it on the menu at Plaquemine Lock and it reminds me of how much of a bloody genius she was. Her pecan pies were definitely better than mine too – I’m still trying to figure out how she did them.

Origins of Jacob Kenedy Photo

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