Food

Chef Peter Prime Has Left Cane and Forthcoming Caribbean Restaurant St. James

The former partner in the Trinidadian restaurants is writing a cookbook.

Chef Peter Prime. Photograph by Scott Suchman

Lauded chef Peter Prime has parted ways with Cane, the much-loved Trinidadian restaurant on H Street, Northeast in which he was a partner. Sister and former business partner Jeanine Prime tells Washingtonian that chef Prime is also no longer involved in highly anticipated 14th Street restaurant, St. James, which has been delayed and is now slated to open in late spring. She says the reason for the split is “a private family matter.”  

“Peter is an amazing talent and I know he’ll be successful as he explores new opportunities,” says Jeanine Prime, who opened Cane with Peter in 2019. The small restaurant has garnered local and national praise, earning a 2020 RAMMY award, Michelin Bib Gourmand, and James Beard semifinalist nomination. 

Peter Prime confirmed his departure and says he is currently working on a cookbook centered around the foundations of Caribbean cuisine. He’s also recently collaborated with chef Erik Bruner-Yang for a pop-up, and says he’s planning more DC chef collaborations in the future. 

I hope I can open a concept in DC sometime soon. I’m just getting a chance to cook with a lot of the people I look up to right now,” says Prime. “The pandemic has everyone rethinking everything and I’m no different. Moving forward, it has to be right.” 

Jeanine Prime says her vision for St. James—conceived as an ode to the family’s native Trinidad—hasn’t changed. 

“We’ve been really fortunate over the last three years to build a great culinary team that really understands the food and flavors. We’ll work with the same team that produces the food at Cane to interpret and bring in new dishes [at St. James].”

When the new restaurant opens in spring, the space—formerly voluminous cocktail bar Quarter + Glory—will have a full redesign and a patio. Small and large share plates will explore the many influences on Trinidad and Tobago’s culinary history—including African, Indian, and Portuguese elements. Jeanine Prime says to expect dishes like curry crab and dumplings—a popular beach food in Tobago—plus Portuguese-style garlic pork and the kitchen’s own Caribbean take on the callaloo, the West African dish of leafy greens. 

St. James, named for an eclectic district in Trinidad’s capital, Port of Spain, will open through a collaboration of Caribbean talents. Service Bar co-owner and mixologist Glendon Hartley, the son of West Indian immigrants, will design the rum-heavy bar program. And Dr. Winnette McIntosh Ambrose, an engineer-turned-chef and Chopped champion from Trinidad, is developing breads and pastries for both Cane and St. James. She currently owns the Sweet Lobby on Capitol Hill. 

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.

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