Chefs

Barbara Lynch Gruppo Alum Scott Jones Is the New Chef at Shepard

Jones took over for Kristen Kish at Menton, and is now making simple and satisfying fare in Cambridge.


(L to R) Owner René Becker and executive chef Scott Jones at Shepard

(L to R) Owner René Becker and executive chef Scott Jones at Shepard. / Photo by Little Outdoor Giants

Changes have rocked Shepard since last spring, but with a new executive chef on board, owner René Becker aims to make it a simply great neighborhood restaurant.

Scott Jones is now at the helm, taking over January 9 and currently rolling out his new menus. Formerly of the Barbara Lynch Gruppo, Jones entered the No. 9 Park kitchen nearly a decade ago after dropping out of a PhD. program at Harvard Medical School. Without any restaurant experience, he rose the ranks to become No. 9’s chef de cuisine. Then, he took over for Top Chef winner Kristen Kish as Menton chef de cuisine—after only five years of professional experience—and implemented Lynch’s vision of an exquisite, French-Italian, nine-course tasting experience.

Jones was most recently culinary director of the entire Gruppo, which also includes Drink, Sportello, B&G Oysters, the Butcher Shop, Stir, and Il Pesce at Eataly Boston.

Becker began looking for an executive chef for Shepard in September, he says. Asta’s Alex Crabb was splitting his time between his own ambitious tasting menu restaurant in the Back Bay and Shepard since May 2017, after opening chef Peter McKenzie left in part because of issues related to smoke ventilation at the then-predominantly live-fire kitchen.

In June, the city of Cambridge officially extinguished Shepard’s fire, ordering the restaurant to stop cooking with solid fuel. Opening co-owner and chef Susan Regis left shortly thereafter.

“My departure from Shepard is bittersweet. So much of my heart went into creating a restaurant where fire was the major ingredient,” she told Boston at the time. “When the city denied our right to use fire to fuel our soul, I felt it would be too difficult to restructure the restaurant in a way that would sustain the core of the restaurant I had created.”

Taking over at Shepard is something of a homecoming for Jones, who lived in the neighborhood while he was studying cancer biology at Harvard. He has dined at Shepard many times since the restaurant opened in 2015.

With Jones on the team, Becker, who also owns Hi-Rise Bread Co., is excited about the possibilities of this new collaboration, he says. But the focus now is on “a great neighborhood restaurant, with simple, French-inspired dishes… prepared with technique one would expect from the chef of Menton.”

That means dishes like cassoulet with duck confit and garlic sausage; choucroute garnie of bratwurst and pork belly over red cabbage sauerkraut and fingerlings; tagliatelle with duck ragout; and roasted chicken with bread salad, brussels, apples, and tarragon green goddess. Jones is also continuing the daily bar menu started under Crabb, with simple finger foods, elevated—deviled eggs with lobster oil and crispy fried shallots; a super burger with the ultimate French fries; and more.

Jones launched brunch earlier this month (though the chef was unidentified for the first couple weeks). It continues every Sunday with Hi-Rise Bread toasts, shakshuka, eggs en meurette (wine-poached eggs with mushrooms and bacon), and more.

“The brunch menu is emblematic of Shepard’s philosophy of ‘simple food prepared extremely well,'” Becker says.

1 Shepard St., Cambridge, 617-714-5295, shepardcooks.com.