Leaving a Legacy: Craig Noone

eat. drink. Mississippi
February/March 2012

On the morning of October 14, 2011, the city of Jackson woke to the stunning news that it had lost one of its brightest young visionaries. As news spread of the tragic automobile accident that took the life of Craig Noone, founder, owner and head chef of Parlor Market, stories began to emerge not only of his great talent as a chef and entrepreneur, but of his kindness and compassion for others.

A Jackson native, thirty-two-year-old Noone’s culinary career spanned worldwide, from Texas to Italy. He returned to Mississippi in 2009 to take part in the revitalization of downtown Jackson, laying out plans to open a restaurant that would pay homage to his Southern roots. Along the way, Noone recruited some of the best and brightest young talent in the industry.

“Craig liked to say he was the best ‘hirer’ in the nation,” said Ryan Bell, sous chef at Parlor Market. “He liked to surround himself with people he thought were better than him.” Bell, along with Chef de Cuisine Jesse Houston, packed up all their belonging and moved from the Dallas-Fort Worth area to Jackson to help Noone make his restaurant a reality. With his dream team assembled, Noone opened Parlor Market on West Capitol Street in downtown Jackson in September 2010.

Noone’s aspirations encompassed more than just the success of his restaurant. His vision included raising Jackson to new heights as a food lover’s city. He frequently invited other talented chefs to visit his hometown and encouraged them to open restaurants of their own.

“He didn’t care that these chefs could turn into potential competition,” commented Houston. “He wanted better food to be available in Jackson. He wanted Jackson to become like Atlanta, Chicago, and New York City.”

Specializing in Southern Cuisine with a regional flair, Parlor Market’s menu features everything from new takes on old favorites – like their smoky pimento cheese – to wild game. Noone was a big advocate of utilizing local as much as possible, which is reflected in the menu items.

“We use a lot of local produce,” explains Houston, who shops at a local farmer’s market once a week to select ingredients. “Our dishes feature regional fish and meat; quail. All of our seafood comes from the Gulf coast.” The menu items change to take advantage of what is in season.

“Craig was always looking for ways to push boundaries by researching other restaurants and different types of food,” recalls Houston. “Our first menu was comfortable while still pushing the envelope. Since then, we’ve added even more exciting dishes as we experiment with different cooking methods and techniques.”

While he was alive, it was common to find Noone patrolling the dining room, greeting guests and making them feel welcome. Although his face is no longer among the crowds that fill the restaurant during lunch and dinner hours, Parlor Market’s staff has continued to keep his legacy going through Noone’s various charitable interests. This includes establishing a Jackson chapter of the Miracle League, a non-profit organization that constructs baseball fields for disabled children. Parlor Market has already participated in one fundraiser to help raise the nearly $300,000 needed to build the field and they have plans to remain involved in a cause that was so close to Noone’s heart.

“We are still going strong and still going to continue to do what we intended to do when we opened the restaurant – educate people on different food and different products,” adds Bell, “We are going to continue to push the envelope in Mississippi.”

Parlor Market
115 W. Capitol Street
Jackson, MS 39201

Tuesday – Friday
11:00 am – 2:00 pm
4:30 pm – 10:00 pm

11:00 am – 2:00 pm
5:30 pm – 10:00 pm

Closed Sunday and Monday

Donations for the Craig Noone’s Miracle League of Jackson can be sent to 115 W. Capitol Street, Jackson, MS 39201. Checks should be made out to ‘Craig Noone’s Miracle League of Jackson.’