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How a Beard Award Winner Is Heating Up Knoxville’s Dining Scene

Inside J.C. Holdway, Joseph Lenn’s eagerly-awaited new restaurant

Hillary Dixler Canavan is Eater's restaurant editor and the author of the publication's debut book, Eater: 100 Essential Restaurant Recipes From the Authority on Where to Eat and Why It Matters (Abrams, September 2023). Her work focuses on dining trends and the people changing the industry — and scouting the next hot restaurant you need to try on Eater's annual Best New Restaurant list.

Chef Joseph Lenn is back in the kitchen. Lenn made a name for himself as the chef of Tennessee's fine-dining destination Blackberry Farm, where he spent 10 years — five as executive chef — and where he became the first person in Tennessee to win the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southeast. Lenn left Blackberry Farm last year to open his own place in nearby Knoxville, and earlier this month, J.C. Holdway let in its first eager customers.

"Simple stuff cooked well is really what got me into cooking."

One of Eater’s most anticipated openings of the season, J.C. Holdway occupies a sun-soaked former photography studio in downtown Knoxville. At the center of the menu, and the kitchen, is Lenn’s wood-fired oven — the must-have piece of equipment for new restaurants in 2016.

The menu also has some Southern favorites like hushpuppies, pimento cheese, and chicken wings topped with Alabama white sauce. Lenn describes the cuisine as "southeastern regional," so a soy sauce made in Kentucky or beautiful lamb from Virginia is just as relevant as produce from the big farmers market that takes place just a block away. Still, Lenn’s not trying to reinvent the wheel, necessarily. "Simple stuff cooked well, it's really what got me into cooking," he told Eater earlier this year.

Take a look around J.C. Holdway, and browse the menu below:

· J.C. Holdway [Official site]
· The 23 Most Anticipated Restaurant Openings of Fall 2016 [E]
· All Joseph Lenn Coverage on Eater [E]