The Untold Truth Of James Kent From Battle Of The Brothers

When you want to see sibling rivalry taken to new heights, you have to check out "Battle of the Brothers." This cooking competition premiering on Discovery+ pits teams of chefs led by "Top Chef" alumni Bryan and Michael Voltaggio against each other (via People). At the end of each episode, the teams and judges decide which contestants face the chopping block for elimination, and have to team up with the Voltaggio brothers in a final head-to-head challenge to stay in the competition. At the end of the season, one lucky remaining chef gets offered the chance to work at one of the brothers' co-owned restaurants.

Each episode features a special guest judge that helps determine which contestants face elimination. Eric Adjepong, Einat Admony, Jordan Andino, Esther Choi, Leah Cohen, Cliff Crooks, Sohla and Ham El-Waylly, Alex Guarnaschelli, Ilan Hall, Judy Joo, Jeremiah Lawrence Stone, Christian Petroni, Erik Ramirez, Fabian von Hauske, and James Kent make appearances across the season to decide who has what it takes to work alongside the Voltaggio brothers. These heavy hitters of the food world have made their marks thanks to their serious level of skills, and James Kent particularly stands out thanks to his unique backstory and hard-hitting culinary prowess.

From humble origins to the pinnacle of fine dining

James Kent found his love for cooking when he was just 15 years old, according to Wine and Food Festival. The native New Yorker first started bussing tables at his uncle's restaurant for pocket money, but truly started his cooking journey as a summer intern at the restaurant Bouley. From there, the chef went on to get his BA in food service management and studied at Le Cordon Bleu during a summer abroad (via Culinary Agents). From this vantage point, Kent launched into an early career that put him under the tutelage of the likes of Gordon Ramsay, and worked at Babbo and Jean-Georges. He eventually moved to the Eleven Madison Park kitchen and went on to represent the United States at the international finals of the Bocuse D'Or in Lyon, France, where he placed 10th in the world.

With these accolades to his name, Kent worked at Eleven Madison Park when the restaurant received multiple Michelin stars before moving to the acclaimed NoMad. With a wealth of knowledge, no one understands how to prepare and cook food like Kent, and the competition has some big expectations to fill when it comes to cooking up the ultimate meal.

James Kent made a name at NoMad and beyond

In addition to representing America abroad, Kent made a name for himself by leading his restaurant, NoMad, to several Michelin stars and helping it rank as one of the best restaurants in the country (via Eater). After several years, Kent joined up with restaurateur Jeff Katz to take fine dining to a whole new level, literally. The team opened up an Art Deco-themed eatery on the 62nd, 63rd, 64th, and 66th floors of a New York City high-rise, wowing diners who love a truly unique experience. While most of the dining takes place on the ground floor of the building, the restaurant, Crown Shy, can still wow anyone who loves classic design and architecture (via Crown Shy).

The flagship restaurant features a pared-down menu that shows off the most elegant proteins and produce with just the right amount of frills. Items like Charred Carrots, Razor Clams, and Thyme pair up beautifully with Gruyere Fritters, Chili, and Lime or Tuna Crudo, Husk Cherry, Pistachio, and Chili. If you count yourself as a foodie who loves classic flavors, you have to make Crown Shy a required stop on your next New York City vacation. While Kent has mastered flavor, he hasn't ever forgotten his roots or the importance of helping others in need.

Kent is a chef and a philanthropist

James Kent can take simple meals to refined, new levels, but he has never forgotten everyone who has helped him get to where he is. When COVID-19 devastated the local dining scene, Kent joined forces with his business partner Jeff Katz to help distribute severance pay and insurance, dole out gift cards, reduce food waste, and helped feed all of those in the area (via Faherty). As part of the project, Kent erected 10 yurts outside of his restaurant he dubbed "Shy Village" in partnership with American Express and Resy. Diners could eat inside these yurts through the winter, ensuring that kitchen staff could keep getting work and helped keep the spirit of cooking alive.

When the going got tough, Kent stepped in and helped out everyone in his vicinity who he could assist. With a work ethic and moral compass as strong as Kent's you couldn't ask for a better cooking personality to judge the best and brightest up and coming chefs that America has to offer.

Kent has a passion for graffiti

At first glance, you might never expect this highly-rated chef to moonlight as a graffiti artist, but James Kent's second passion for tagging truly makes him a unique character. According to Bloomberg, designers and artists took notice of Kent's talents after he brought his graffiti images to the rooftop of NoMad and got tapped to decorate businesses in New York alongside the artist Harif Guzman. Kent found his passion for graffiti in the '90s as a kid under the tag name Sest. He claimed the Meatpacking District and area that would eventually turn into the Highline with orange, pink, and blue lettering spelling out "Sest."

The soon-to-be chef tagged houses, bridges, even moving trains in signature bubble letters and developed his tagging skills at LaGuardia High School. Kent pushed himself to the limit, tagging the tallest buildings he could and tried to make his designs as beautiful as possible. You might have even seen Kent pursue a full career bringing his art to the streets if not for an arrest. Cops caught the 17-year old Kent tagging the streets on a Friday night and placed him in central booking for three nights. After the harrowing experience, Kent decided to focus full time on cooking to avoid further jail time.

A moment in the limelight

While James Kent has mostly kept to the kitchens, he has graced television screens in the past. According to Warner Hanson, the Biography Channel made a two-part documentary chronicling Kent's training as he prepared to represent America at the Bocuse d'Or. The documentary, titled "The American Chef" traced Kent and his assistant, Tom Allen, as the pair worked tirelessly to perfect their techniques at French Laundry. Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, Gavin Kaysen, and Timothy Hollingsworth mentored the pair and made sure they received the proper training fitting of U.S. representative chefs. The film came to a conclusion in Lyon, France during the five-and-a-half-hour-long cooking competition.

With chops like this, James Kent can easily guide novice chefs to new heights and knows what it takes to make it in the restaurant industry. Make sure to tune into "Battle of the Brothers" on June 17 to see where the competition takes its contestants, and get excited to see James Kent's unique take on the show's cooking styles.