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STREETSEEN  | Erling Jensen 

Photo by Steve Roberts

Erling Jensen: Chef and Owner of Erling Jensen The Restaurant

Story by Emily Adams Keplinger

Originally from Frederikshavn, Denmark, Erling Jensen started down the culinary path at a young age.

“I started cooking at the age of 14 when I enrolled in a culinary school,” explained Jensen. “It is very different in Europe. Students can go to a regular school and to a trade school, like a culinary school, at the same time.”

And that is just what Jensen did. After four years, he graduated and said that like many Europeans, he wanted to come to America. He contacted the Danish ambassador who told him to chart his course to Washington DC. Once there, Jensen became a chef at the Danish Embassy. He remained at the embassy for about a year and a half before being hired as Executive Chef at the Prince Hamlet Restaurant by Jorgen Mueller, a Danish Chef/Restauranteur, in Miami, Florida.

“I loved it there,” recalled Jensen. “I started doing my own thing, cooking old European dishes like schnitzels and pickled foods, as well as seafood.” 

As Miami changed, Jensen started to look for a new opportunity. He said that he picked up a copy of The New York Times one day and spied an ad placed by Glenn Hayes, then owner of a restaurant on Monroe in Midtown, La Tourelle. 

“I gave him a call and got hired over the phone,” said Jensen. “I was at La Tourelle from 1988 until 1996. Glenn was what we now call a ‘foodie.’ We grew together, teaching each other a lot of things — we really put out some good food there. Our menu was more modern than most, with fresh fish from Hawaii and Florida, foie gras, and sweetbreads. We won all kinds of awards for our cooking.” Indeed, during Jensen’s tenure at La Tourelle, the restaurant received the highest culinary ratings in its history. In addition to being the Chef at La Tourelle, Jensen also became First Tennessee Bank's Corporate Executive Chef. 

“But, I’d always wanted to have my own restaurant,” said Jensen. “That time came in 1996 when I opened Erling Jensen The Restaurant in East Memphis. I chose the location because it was situated just off Poplar Avenue. I knew it would always have a lot of traffic. Plus the actual building had been an antiques shop previously and was full of inherent charm.”

Jensen continued, “My goal has been to give people what they want. Oh, I may bend things little at times, try a few new things and see how people respond, but I still serve some favorites that I started with 22 years ago such as pasta with shrimp and scallops, crab cakes, and rack of lamb.”

Jensen’s methods and skills speak for themselves. He has been invited, not once, but twice, to cook at the James Beard House in New York City. And locally, he has earned such accolades as “Best Chef in Memphis,” “Best Restaurant in Memphis,” and “Distinguished Restauranteur of the Year.”

When asked what he enjoys about his work, Jensen quickly responded that he feels every day is special. “I love to be with people, some who have followed me for the last 30 years,” replied Jensen. “I love being a part of people’s special occasions, like birthdays and anniversaries. Many times I’m now serving the second generation of some families. And I love to see people happy when they leave.”

“I’ve always been lucky to have a really good staff,” continued Jensen. “In fact, some of my wait staff has been with me since we opened 22 years ago. And we have a strong kitchen. It is a great feeling to wake up each day and still feel excited about going to work. And now that I have a 5-year-old son, I’m likely to be working until I’m 102.”  


STREETSEEN  |  Kristin Jones

Photo by Steve Roberts

Kristin Jones: Building a fashion design business

Story by Emily Adams Keplinger

Kristin Jones is part of the emerging culture of “Makers” in Memphis. As someone who once might have been called a “hobbyist,” the term “maker” has taken on a much deeper meaning as people like Jones use their creative talent to make a living.

“I was born and raised in Memphis, then moved away for college,” said Jones. “A lot about Memphis changed in that time. Memphis had become (and still is) an incubator for the creative community. I’m lucky that I moved back when I did so I could be a part of it.”

Jones grew up in southeast Memphis and attended Germantown High School (GHS). Her creative spark began to develop as she worked for GHS TV and the Poplar Pike Playhouse. Rather than play a part on stage, Jones worked behind the scenes; as House Manager for the theater and in Guest Relations at the TV station. She studied theater production at Elon University in Elon, NC; however, after graduation she found herself producing television rather than theater, in New York City. 

“I began working with reality and documentary shows as an associate producer,” recalled Jones.  “It was the hectic pace of my work that made me realize that I needed a better balance in my life. I chose to start knitting and sewing — that’s how I found my passion for fashion design. As I completed my projects, I decided to start a blog. It was a way of saying, ‘Look what I made!’ From responses to my blog I discovered that there was a very big Do It Yourself community. That’s how I met other makers, many who gave me tips and pointers.”

Jones moved back to Memphis in 2015. She continued to work remotely for the NYC office of Radical Media, but switched from producing shows to writing their scripts. Once settled in her East Memphis home, Jones also began building her own fashion design business.

“I started working with magazines, submitting my designs and creating clothing — mostly for the home knitters and people creating their own clothing,” explained Jones. “Now I create patterns for DIY magazines, like ‘I Like Knitting’ based out of Chicago and ‘Amirisu’ in Kyoto, Japan.”

Jones retains exclusive ownership of the patterns, but the magazines are able to lease them to run in their publications. After the lease is up, purchases for instructions must be made directly through Jones.

Through her business arrangement with a number of publications, Jones’ designs have an enormous global audience. For instance, the magazine “Knitty” has 1.5 million monthly readers. “Amirisu” is sold across 14 countries and Prime Publishing, the owner of “I Like Knitting” and other DIY magazines, has 25 million monthly viewers and 2.5 million subscribers. And for those potential customers who like the look of Jones’ fashions, but don’t want to craft themselves, Jones offers the service of custom-making selected items for clients. In addition to her more local following, Jones’ fan base includes people from as far away as Australia, Austria, Japan, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Taiwan and the UK. One woman from New Zealand who spins and dyes her own yarn even sent Jones several skeins.

“The DIY community has been growing for several years, and my design offerings fit right in,” said Jones. “What people want is to make something interesting and unique, something that they feel ownership of and that isn’t off the rack. The appeal is ageless — from teens to seniors. For younger people, I love to help them enhance their skills, build their confidence and inspire them to succeed. For seniors, it comes down to giving them a social outlet, as well as a way to feel productive.” 

To learn more about Kristin Jones and her designs, visit her website weallknithere.com.