Chef/Partner - Restaurant Serenade
The Grand Tasting, March 16, 2013
The New York Times has called Chef James Laird "one of the best classically trained chefs in New Jersey," and New Jersey Monthly has consistently rated his restaurant among "the best of the best." The Record describes his cuisine "as a soft and subtle love song," and Crain’s NY Business noted, “Serenade is among the Garden State’s most rewarding dining destinations.”
Upon graduation from the Culinary Institute of America, James traveled to Europe to hone his skills under renowned chefs Georges Blanc and Alain Pic. During the early ‘90s, he held positions at Lespinasse, The River Café, and Aureole, eventually moving on to New Jersey's esteemed Ryland Inn. It was in the kitchen of there that he met the woman he would later marry and partner with, Nancy Sheridan, a former Wall Streeter-turned-Culinary Institute star grad.
In 2000, James was the first New Jersey chef awarded the prestigious Robert Mondavi Culinary Award of Excellence.
Throughout his impressive career, Chef Laird and Serenade have been featured in The New York Times; Wall Street Journal; Gourmet; Reuters; Organic Gardening; New York Magazine; New Jersey Monthly; New Jersey Life; Food Arts; and The Star-Ledger. James has also been seen on “The Today Show,” The Food Network, “CBS Saturday Early Show;” and Channel 7 Eyewitness News.
James — a yoga and squash devotee — also enjoys fly fishing (catch and release only). He raises organic heirloom vegetables, herbs, and flowers in an extensive raised-bed garden, as well as heirloom chickens.
James and Nancy Laird live in New Vernon, New Jersey with their energetic and adorable Airedale, Bailey.