In Good Taste

Top Chef Alumna Jesse Sandlin Takes Over Rebranded Canton Kitchen

JD's Smokehouse BBQ Restaurant & Bar gets new name with Sandlin at the helm.

Former Top Chef contestant Jesse Sandlin has been hired as executive chef at the rebranded JD’s Smokehouse BBQ Restaurant & Bar in Canton.

The new space at 3000 O’Donnell Street is slated to have its official debut on March 1, and will be known as Jokers & Thieves (inspired by a lyric from the Bob Dylan Son “All Along the Watchtower” in which he sings, “There must be some way out of here, said the joker to the thief”).

Sandlin, who got her start at a hot dog stand in Glen Burnie, and who has worked in some of Baltimore’s top kitchens including stints at Petit Louis, Charleston, and more recently Oliver Speck’s Eats & Drinks, is far from a jokester when it comes to cooking.

While the menu is still in flux, Sandlin says that it will feature southern-inflected flair, with mainstay dishes such as fried chicken and waffles, catfish, and shrimp and grits.

“We’ll have pulled pork sandwiches, we’ll have brisket,” says Sandlin who was working at Jack’s Bistro prior to coming the space. “I want more southern, low country food, that’s what I lean toward. My grandmother on my father’s side is from North Carolina—I just dig it.”

One place you won’t likely find Sandlin is on another episode of Top Chef. “Being on Top Chef taught me that I’m a terrible celebrity,” says Sandlin, laughing. “I consider myself to be a pretty humble person. I understood all the attention after the show and that people feel like they know you after you’ve been in their living rooms for the past four or five weeks, but at the same time, they don’t know you. I just want to make good food.”

For now, the space is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. On Saturdays and Sundays, the kitchen opens at noon. Brunch plans are in the works, too. For more information call 410-675-4029.