In the Kitchen with Wine Bar Owners Tracy and Jamie Kennard

updated Dec 17, 2019
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(Image credit: Susanna Hopler)

Who: Tracy and Jamie Kennard, owners of wine bar Brunette
Where: Kingston, New York

Tracy and Jamie Kennard are the owners of Brunette, a natural wine bar in downtown Kingston. They’ve converted the space, a former barber shop, into a sweet and stylish spot where you can nibble on gougères over a glass (or a bottle) of something intriguing — orange wine, perhaps?

Interesting wines like these, Tracy tells us, are what the bar has become known for, although there are plenty of other colors to tempt. She also explains that the decision to open Brunette was based on their desire to spend more time upstate. Tracy is a fashion and lifestyle consultant and Jamie is a graphic designer, and both travel back and forth to the city to keep these endeavors running. But they were longing to make the Catskills a more permanent home. And if you were to visit their tiny house, you’d understand why.

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Tracy and Jamie Kennard are the husband-and-wife team behind Brunette Wine Bar in Kingston, New York. (Image credit: Tara Donne)
(Image credit: Tara Donne)

Tracy doesn’t think of herself as a collector, but, she says, she’s always being told otherwise. In the distance, her husband, Jamie, nods his agreement — but while the term may bring to mind clutter, their rural hideaway is a study in collecting done right. There’s just the right amount of stuff, carefully curated and artfully arranged.

Mismatched plates, adorable egg cups, and rose-colored glasses share space in an antique hutch that the couple thought would fit in their kitchen; it didn’t, so now it holds court in their dining room, which also features pink Eero Saarinen chairs, rescued from the Quiksilver offices where Tracy used to work, and a table that came with the house (for an additional $10).

The couple quickly adds that there was a lot more stuff before they opened Brunette. Tracy’s miniature Bonne Maman jam jars? They’ve been repurposed as flower vases. Still, it’s a home that makes this Marie Kondo acolyte want more — and that’s saying something.

Tracy in her simple Catskills kitchen. (Image credit: Tara Donne)

A Visit with Tracy and Jamie Kennard (& Their Kitchen)

How did you find your kitchen?

We have been in our house a decade. It started as a weekend cottage, but now we live here full-time. We are super-lazy homeowners, so the only “work” we did was to paint the vinyl floors with black porch paint and the cabinets and cupboards white. We have a laundry list of things we’d love to change, but they’ve been on the list for 10 years.

What’s your favorite thing in your kitchen?

I have a ceramic dish filled with chicken wishbones. It might seem morbid, but I love them. They’re tiny and delicate and you never know when you might need a wish, right?

Tracy’s chicken wishbones and collection of bag tags. (Image credit: Tara Donne)

Do you have a favorite tool or keepsake?

I have so many favorite little mementos. I think of myself as being super minimal, but I’m constantly being reminded otherwise. I have a collection of bag tags that I just love. The colors, the shape, the fact that they are dated. And they’re so tiny – you can hoard hundreds, and no one would ever know.

What’s the smartest feature of your kitchen?

It’s not fancy beyond what we need. While we’d love to upgrade our stove and fridge, realistically, based on the amount of cooking and time we spend in the kitchen, they would be overkill. Our kitchen is humble, but it suits our lifestyle and needs.

Do you have any kitchen habits you think are important?

I do have a few rules that I always abide by:

  1. Never use a knife as it wasn’t intended (i.e., as a tool to stab open a bag).
  2. Never use soap in the cast iron.
  3. Always use cloth napkins.

Who does most of the cooking?

Two years ago? Me [Tracy], all the time. Now? Hardly anyone. We’re always at the bar!

What do you like to cook the most?

Roast chicken — can’t go wrong. Smells amazing, super easy, feels fancy. And then I use the carcass for stock that I use in ramen.

It’s tough to get a bowl of ramen up here. I’m addicted to Sun Noodles, so I buy theirs frozen. The noodles take four minutes to cook. I’ll add a soft egg and some greens and it’s enough to tide me over until my next trip to the city.

Thank you for the visit, Tracy and Jamie! Visit them at their wine bar, Brunette, in Kingston, New York. This kitchen visit is part of our Bite-Sized Guide series, our travel guides to destinations near and far. See the full guide here.