OFF THE BEATEN TRACK:
WE TALK WITH THE OWNERS OF KING NYC
A RESTAURANT IN SOHO NYC, With an Italian influence
07 May 2021
Interview | 07 May 2021
In 2016 Jess Shadbolt, Clare DeBoer and Annie Shi opened their popular neighbourhood restaurant King in SoHo, NYC. With an Italian influence, their constantly evolving menu, and the use of simple, fresh and seasonal ingredients.
We love these guys and their food is beyond delicious, a trip to King would definitely not be a wasted one – just trust us.
How did you meet?
J: Clare and I were on the line together at The River Cafe – Annie was spending time in London – we soon bonded over our love of anchovies.
C: We met in London – working at the River Cafe and Morgan Stanley.
Where do you live and what do you love about that area?
J: I’ve recently migrated across the bridge to Fort Greene in BK. I came for the pace and park life and staying for the proximity to Roman’s my favourite local restaurant.
A: Hell’s Kitchen – in spite of growing up in NY, never spent much time in this neighbourhood and I love how much it feels like old New York
C: I live in Prospect Heights and I love the proximity to Prospect Park, and that I pass a great coffee shop to get there.
Why New York?
J: Annie and Clare have roots in the city, and I was open for an adventure. It’s a city that champions new beginnings.
Much like the food at King – which is simple and paired back – we wanted to create a space that wasn’t distracting, that was a blank canvas for engagement and exchange.
What was the thinking behind your aesthetic?
J: Much like the food at King – which is simple and paired back – we wanted to create a space that wasn’t distracting, that was a blank canvas for engagement and exchange.
C: Function! and Comfort
How would you describe your menus?
J: Our menu is small and changes daily – we follow the seasons and our greed!
C: Our menus reflect the season and our whims
Where do you love to eat or drink when you’re not at King?
J: Ernesto’s: brilliant people, serving Basque food that is fiercely delicious. – For all things good: A neighbourhood Molino where you can’t resist ordering all the tacos – Cervo’s: Sit at the bar, and stay all night – generous food that is nourishing.
A: Red Hook Tavern and Popina in that order with my Wine Club Sunday friends, Blue Willow for the best Chinese in the city, Mala Project for the best delivery in the city, Angel’s Share for cocktails.
Most exciting thing about your job?
J: The collaboration – between us as partners, our staff, our guests, our suppliers – other people in the industry. It is fiercely exciting to be part of one massive conversation.
A: Love the flow of a busy service! Synergy of working step-in-step with my staff. The feeling of matching the perfect wine to the perfect table.
Favourite place you have visited and why?
J: Aldeburgh in Suffolk is my favorite place in the world. Quintessentially British – ice cream coloured houses, pebbled beaches and (usually) stormy skies. Wet walks on the beach end at the finest pub Great Britain has to offer (The Potty) before fish and chips on the sea wall. It hasn’t changed in all the years we’ve been visiting it.
C: Sicily, Istanbul and Cambodia. Food!
Did you start doing anything differently since lockdown in March? How has it changed your life/work?
J: Washing my face. Never one to have undertaken a skincare routine I went in full throttle and I now feel very grown up.
A: We closed the restaurant on March 17 and I spent the next three months in lockdown with my parents. Eventually, we felt like we needed to dip our toes back in and start trying to re-open the restaurant, so I came back to the city to lead that in June. The following months were definitely unlike anything else we’ve ever lived through, but I’m so proud of King and our staff and how everyone rose to the occasion. We are who we are because of the brilliant people who work for us! That is also the thing that I’m most proud of.
C: I was a new Mum, already living in effective lockdown for 6 months so it didn’t change much initially.
When restrictions are lifted, where’s the first place you will go?
J: The Potty for a pork pie, pickled onion and a pint.
C: Home! I haven’t been back to London in almost two years. And will sneak off to Rome for a weekend when I get there.
What’s on your kitchen playlist?
J: I’m unashamedly taken by 80’s power ballads…
A: having a massive Beegees, Beach Boys and Isley Brothers moment
Top 3 Films?
J: – Swiss Family Robinson. Ultimate escapism all these years later.
– I recently watched Waves – epic and shattering.
– When Harry Met Sally – Nora 4Ever!
Top 3 BOOKS?
J: – Omelette and A glass of wine
– A fine Balance
– The Vanishing Half
A: Stormlight Archive series, Neapolitan series by Elena Ferrante, Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin
FAVOURITE 3 podcasts?
J: – Desert Island Discs…not over Judy Dench’s
– How to Fail by Elizabeth Day
3 INSTAGRAM Accounts to Follow?
J: I’m a bit rubbish at Instagram but I love to follow the brilliant work @chooselove
D: Adam Buxton if I ever have time!! more a radio person.
leftover herbs get bruised and thrown into (more leftover) bottles of gin or vodka for quick infusions – makes for really lovely cocktails! and don’t throw out your spare egg whites – those go into sours at home with the aforementioned infused gin.
Do you have any great kitchen hacks?
J: New season olive oil.
A: leftover herbs get bruised and thrown into (more leftover) bottles of gin or vodka for quick infusions – makes for really lovely cocktails! and don’t throw out your spare egg whites – those go into sours at home with the aforementioned infused gin.
Are there any great wines that should be on our radar?
J: Annie is your woman for this!
A: absolutely – look to the Languedoc for some fantastic, fresh wines from new producers – Danjou-Banessy is worth looking up in particular. Italian whites continue to be undervalued – we particularly love the Vermintos and Pigatos from Liguria in the spring and summer time. Punta Crena is a favorite there.
Your most memorable meal and why?
J: Lunch – on a beach – pebbles or sand. I have loved every one
C: full English breakfast at the Wolseley the morning after I proposed to my boyfriend, before we’d shared the news
Do YOU HAVE PLANS FOR A BOOK?
J: We hope so…
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
J: Who the f*ck knows!? But I’m hoping it’s going to be a hoot.
What are you most proud of?
J: Our team. We would not have survived the past 12 months without them.
C: Having anything my son could ever need with me at all times