Kitchen mission

Chef James opens eatery in honor
of daughter stricken with cancer

The restaurant features
‘artisan farm style’ cuisine

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

(December 2009) – Lucien Gregor James spent 22 years in other chefs’ kitchens doing everything from manning a sauté station to creating the perfect bagel. Last year, he decided to pursue a dream and continue his education at Hyde Park, N.Y.’s Culinary Institute of America, the premier cooking school in the world.

Chef Lucien Gregor James

Photo provided

Chef Lucien Gregor
James makes from
scratch everything
served at his new
ChickiePoo restaurant, including sodas,
ketchup and all breads.

James spent his first year on the dean’s list and had perfect attendance. His dream seemed just within sight when disaster swiftly struck his family. Last January, his 4-year-old daughter, Isa, was diagnosed with a deadly form of childhood leukemia, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
James immediately left the institute and headed to Madison, Ind., to be with his family. The tragic diagnosis not only changed his life but also his outlook on life. “When your child has cancer, nothing else matters,” he said.
The Jameses recently opened ChickiePoo at 209 E. Main St. It is a small, cozy restaurant with a menu that changes daily. Named in honor of Isa, the restaurant features what Gregor calls “artisan farm style” food. “Everything from ketchup to soda is made from scratch,” he said.
It features a rotating menu in which dishes of poultry, beef and pork or lamb are served, along with homemade soups and salads with homemade dressings. Vegetarian entrees are also available, and there is a bread of the day, including muffins, sweet rolls and other home baked delights. Coffee is made to order, while beverages including teas, lemonades, root beer and ginger ale are made from scratch.
For breakfast, traditional French omelets are among the menu selections, as is bacon cured and smoked at the restaurant.
“We want people to take their time when they come in here,” said Gregor. “We serve ‘slow food,’ traditional quality food, as opposed to the fast food whipped out at other restaurants.”
James is a boutique restaurant chef who is trained to create masterful, unique cuisine. Most chefs spend countless hours away from their homes and families. The career is hard and demanding. “I realized I don’t want to invest my life away from my family,” he said. “I enjoy their company.”
James lives in Madison with his wife, Phoebe, and two daughters, Isa, and Gigi.
Phoebe said with Gregor working as a chef, the couple had always talked about restaurants. “We talked about what we would do with a restaurant we owned,” she said. “We hadn’t really made any specific plans to ever open a restaurant, but that changed.”
The Jameses said they have learned “not to sweat the small stuff” anymore. “We had plans, but God’s timing was different than ours,” said Phoebe. “Things are doing well at this point, and we know we are going to make it.”
As for Isa, she is almost through the intensive part of her treatments, which include chemotherapy. She is doing as well as can be expected, said her parents. However, she has a long battle ahead of her. The survival rate for her leukemia is 85-90 percent but only for the five year mark.
“Ultimately, anything can happen, so sooner rather than later has became our mantra,” said Gregor. “Most children live in the moment, and all cancer parents realize that the moment to love and live is in the present. That’s why ChickiePoo’s theme is Eat Here Now!”

• For more information about ChickiePoo, visit: www.Chickiepoo.Wordpress.com.

Back to December 2009 Articles.



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