The Recipe of John S. Jones, II (December 8, 1956 – September 6, 2019)
John Stephen Jones, II, of Greensboro, NC, baked his last pie on September 6, 2019. During his 62 years of family, food, and travel, John sought that perfect pie to create and share. He was a salty, flaky crust with a luscious sweet and sour filling covered in a latticework of ideas and community. A final detour, “an interesting trip through Cancerland,” left John and all of us incomplete, wanting to savor another piece of the pie.
The pastry dough was of simple ingredients: life, love, work, friends. John was a respected veteran of the Triad food scene, a magician behind the curtain at numerous seminal restaurant institutions in Greensboro. He was a founding partner of the original Southern Lights Bistro and worked at a few classic Greensboro staples, including Bentley’s, The Elms, the first Liberty Oak, and Bistro Sofia. John was one of the first leadership employees at Quaintance-Weaver, Inc., serving as General Manager of the first Lucky 32 and in management operations at Green Valley Grill. He also had an ongoing involvement with The Painted Plate. He was most proud of the food he created and shared at The Next Supper, a specialized catering company and the original pop-up dining group in the Triad. Co-founded with Kerrie Thomas in 2009, the underground dining collective was a hubbub of community, where hearts and minds came together to enjoy simply crafted meals and to connect with one another in unusual locations. In his later years, John was generous in his work ethic and experience, offering up hours upon hours to consult on upcoming restaurant and bar concepts in the area. John was a founder of the Triad branch of the Piedmont Culinary Guild, did cooking demos at the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market and the Edible Schoolyard, and was a co-chef at Goat Lady Dairy. John dabbled in the telecom and tech industry in the mid-90s right before the digital age, but he couldn’t stand the shirts, ties, and mediocre food.
The filling (the best part, with fruit, spice, binder, and fat): John was gracious in all aspects of his life, as a father, a chef, a builder, a lover, and a mentor. He was passionate about doing things the right way and was always at the ready to lend a hand when things got hot in the kitchen - “Yes, I am glad to help.” John bubbled with passion for just about everything in our world. He was inspired by how a simple plate of food can bring us all together, and in the words of lifelong friend Joseph Mann, “he was always in love with electrons,” so deeply inspired by human interconnectedness. While our country has been in a wave of disunion, John was hopeful, that “we gon’ be alright” (thank you, Kendrick Lamar) and held true to the belief that we are all in this together.
Author Kate McDermott’s love letter to the art of pie captures the essence of John:
“Pie is generous and adaptable. It offers a never-ending stream of variations on the theme of pastry with filling, both savory and sweet. Pie is an ambassador of love. Pie doesn’t care about perfection or precision. It doesn’t care if its savory or sweet, big or little, or whether it is finished with a full top or a lattice top. What matters is that it continues to be made, shared, and taught so that there will be an unbroken line of future generations of pie makers practicing their craft.”
During his cosmic journey, John plans to travel with his beloved mother Ophelia Knight Jones, his father Hayes Jones, Sr., four brothers since passed, and his favorite creative thinkers, including David Bowie, Prince, Anthony Bourdain, and Rumi.
Those left behind to savor his favorite recipes on the bookshelf include his daughter Larsen Jones of Carrboro; sister Evelyn John of Raleigh; brother Hayes Jones, Jr., of Rock Hill, SC; ex-wife Carol Short of Greensboro; several nieces, nephews, and cousins; dear friends and peers in the culinary industry; and his unexpected family of seven years, life partner Kelly Swindell and step-children Gus Swindell, Sam Swindell, and Saffron, the best/worst seventeen-year-old cat.
John’s leftovers are numerous: if anyone needs a chef’s jacket or apron, a print edition of Gourmet or Bon Appetite, a hotel pan or dishtowel, please let the family know. There is plenty to share and savor.
As we enjoy the delicious memories that John has left for us to enjoy, remember - don’t leave a morsel behind. Also, “blessed are the cheesemakers.” – Monty Python, The Life of Brian
“Funerals are no fun. I want a last supper send-off with family, friends, and pie.” Family and friends will eat, drink, and toast John Jones at a celebratory “last supper” on Sunday, September 22, Noon to 2:00 p.m. at The Painted Plate, 3404 Whitehurst Place, in Greensboro, NC. Cremation arrangements and online condolences may be made at Triad Cremation and Funeral Services. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be sent to the Southern Foodways Alliance.
If there are any leftovers, wrap the pie tightly at the end of the meal to have another slice in the morning.