Kenny Callaghan is a celebrated chef and restaurant consultant with a 28-year career in some of New York City’s most beloved restaurants. A graduate of Johnson & Wales University, Kenny worked in numerous kitchens before joining Danny Meyer’s Union Square Café in late 1993. During his tenure at Union Square Café, Kenny was promoted to Executive Sous Chef, where he and his team enjoyed the ZAGAT distinction of “Most Popular Restaurant, NYC” year after year.
In 2001, Danny chose Kenny to create a new concept within Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG) that would change the culinary landscape of NYC, giving birth to the urban barbecue movement – Blue Smoke & Jazz Standard. As Executive Chef & Managing Partner, Kenny embarked on an extensive touring and tasting journey across the country to develop the menu; and this Northern-bred, classically trained chef developed serious Southern roots. Blue Smoke resonated strongly with New Yorkers and visitors, alike, and eventually the business evolved into a larger organization, Blue Smoke Enterprises. Blue Smoke Enterprises includes two full-scale restaurants in NYC, Jazz Standard and Blue Smoke on the Road (with outposts at New York Mets/Citi Field, Washington Nationals/Nationals Park, Saratoga Race Track and Delta Terminal Four at JFK Airport).
In 2002, Kenny Co-Founded The Big Apple Barbecue Block Party, a weekend-long culinary and music festival that draws over 150,000 attendees annually. In addition to his role as Executive Chef and Partner of Blue Smoke Enterprises, Kenny stepped in for two years as Managing Director of Culinary Operations to help transform the Union Square Events business, USHG’s catering and large-scale sports and entertainment company.
After two decades dedicated to Danny Meyer and the entire USHG family, Kenny decided it was time to head off on his own to pursue new culinary experiences as Chef-Consultant. Kenny brings his expertise in the areas of restaurant & kitchen design, concept, menu & team development, strategic planning, mentoring, cost control and so much more. Kenny is actively involved in the charitable community, notably Share Our Strength, Children of Bellevue, Sideman Cancer Center and the Rusty Staub Foundation among others.
Kenny and his recipes have appeared in countless media outlets, among them New York Magazine, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, and the cover of Food Arts as well as cooking demos on The Food Network, The Today Show, Live! with Regis & Kelly, Bloomberg TV, and Martha Stewart Living Television. Additionally, Kenny developed a successful line of internationally distributed consumer goods for Blue Smoke, including barbecue sauces, rubs and chocolate bars.
Capital Tavern Managing Partner 3/17-- Present
Conceptualized & designed both FOH & BOH to create a new concept.
Eatright Hospitality Founder 12/13 – Present
Chef & Restaurant Consultant with a proven track record in achieving excellence in design and operations.
• Kitchen & Restaurant Design • Cost Control
• Strategic Planning • Menu & Recipe Development
• Budgeting / Pro Formas • Building Infrastructure & Managing Talent
• Overall Operations • Mentoring
-The Big Easy- London, England
-The River Palm Terrace - Edgewater, NJ
-Ole Savannah - Kingston, NY
-The Pike - Queens, NY
Union Square Hospitality Group 11/93 – 11/13
Over the course of 20 years, served in a variety of roles across the organization, including Chef/Partner, Managing Director and Co-Founder.
Blue Smoke Enterprises Executive Chef/Managing Partner 9/01 – 11/13
• Ideated the vision for the restaurant in collaboration with Danny Meyer
• Helmed the BOH operations for the restaurant & jazz club from inception, on
• Hired, trained and led a team of 250 employees across two full-scale restaurants
• Continually innovated menu and concept to meet the ever-changing culinary climate
• Directed licensing partners on all operations, hiring and training for “On the Road” outposts
• Owned all aspects of menu development, recipe creation
• Responsible for food cost control at all levels
Big Apple Barbecue Block Party Co-Founder 2002 – Present
• Conceptualized and lead execution for this weekend-long celebration of all things barbecue & live music
• Hand-selected all chef participants on an annual basis
• Drove culinary programming and event logistics, which welcomed over 150,0000 guests/year
• Expanded the business to Aspen and Denver leading to the eventual sale to C3 Presents
• Community building, over $100,0000 annually donated to Madison Square Park Conservancy
Union Square Events Director of Culinary Operations /Managing Partner 1/10 – 1/13
• Elevated to internal consultant to right the business, get it operating at highest level
• Monitored and influenced hiring and training practices
• Served as a mentor to team leaders across multiple venues and events.
• Created new concepts, menu development for events
• Revamped entire food cost control systems
Union Square Café Executive Sous Chef 11/93 – 9/01
• Directed all kitchen operations
• Curated the “Daily Specials” menu
• Interviewed candidates for all BOH positions
• Responsible for food cost control & ordering
• Mentored culinary team
The Russian Tea Room Tournant 8/91 – 10/93
Worked every station in the kitchen during two years at the restaurant.
The Helmsley Palace Hotel Tournant 6/88 – 8/91
Worked multiple stations in the kitchen during two years at the hotel.
Johnson & Wales University Degree: BA in Food Service Management; AS Culinary Arts