“Pip” marries “Joey Ovens!” Great food follows!

Joseph Lenn and Laura Cole prior to their wedding on Saturday.

Our friend Laura Seery Cole’s father, John Seery Sr., is from New Jersey and he has a nickname for everyone. When Laura was a little girl, he called her “Pip,” which was short for “pipsqueak.”

A few years ago, Laura began dating and then became engaged to Knoxville’s only James Beard Award-winning chef, Joseph Lenn, who owns J.C. Holdway restaurant on Union Avenue in downtown Knoxville. Her father quickly came up with a nickname for him: Joey Ovens!

The two officially tied the knot this past Saturday in a ceremony at the restaurant attended by about 50 friends and family members. It was followed, naturally, by a six-course dinner with wine pairings!

Laura is no slouch in the career department, either. She is director of the Masters Investment Learning Center at the Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee. She holds multiple degrees from Auburn University and a Ph.D. in finance from UT. She’s a senior lecturer who teaches numerous undergraduate and graduate classes and she’s been published and quoted widely on investment topics. Just this year she was named 23-24 Advisor of the Year for the Haslam College of Business Student Organization Awards.

But my favorite of all Dr. Cole’s roles is that of CFO for J.C. Holdway — chief flower officer!

But, first things first! Leah Smith helps get the party started as folks enter for the nuptials.

Mingling ensued.

Steven Griffin was passing homemade potato chips topped with tuna tartare.

Zack Frisby offered smoked bologna sandwiches with pickled green tomatoes and hot sauce aioli, if you can believe it!

Domingo Pasillas with tuna tartare and caviar and creme fraiche-topped potato chips.

Here’s a closer look. Clockwise from top left: the caviar-topped potato chips, tuna tartare-topped chips, little smoked baloney sandwiches, and miniature hush puppies with Benton’s country ham and pickles! Not shown: chicken croquettes with black truffle aioli.

Jerry Lenn, the father of the groom, with one of those hush puppy skewers.

Loved the boutonniere!

Emily Lenn, the mother of the groom.

She had a matching wrist corsage.

But, get a load of these cakes!!

Created by Magpies Bakery, don’t you love the “bride” and “groom” on top?

Here’s a closer look! Hahaha! The couple are currently remodeling a condo in The Pembroke downtown. “I predict that when that condo is finished, they are getting one of those dogs!” said Emily Lenn, the chef’s mother.

Here’s the groom’s cake! Chef Lenn is an avid trout fisherman. “If he’s not cooking, he’s fishing,” his mom said.

John Seery, Sr., left, the father of the bride, with Jason Drotar, J.C. Holdway’s great sommelier.

Chef Cassidee Dabney, executive chef at The Barn at Blackberry Farm.

From left, Stanton Webster, Gerald Witt, and Dr. Lauren Chiles. Gerald would “officiate” at the ceremony. (Because he’s not an actual minister, the couple made the marriage legal at the courthouse earlier in the week!)

Emily Lenn, left, and Sharon Benton.

Soon, we were asked to take our seats and we heard the opening notes of “La Vie En Rose.” Musicans, from left, Nestor Perozo, Adrian Pena, and Domingo Pasillas.

The tables were decorated with sweet, delicate little flowers.

Fiona Seery, the bride’s niece, was one of the flower girls.

Laura walked down the aisle (actually a path between dining tables!) to Bach’s No. 1 in G major.

Laura gives Joseph his ring.

Everybody cracks up when Gerald Witt says that he is performing the ceremony by powers vested in him by “the Church of Dude!”

Awww. Sweet moment.

The kiss.


Groom and his mother.

Bride and her dad.

Time to drink more! Maggie Biggs brings Sauvignon Blanc to accompany the first course.

Which was a carrot salad with yogurt, harissa and mint.

A 2023 Chardonnay called “The Bee and Jupiter” was next. I don’t normally care for Chardonnay, but this one was great. It was clean and crisp and not oaky or buttery at all.

It was paired with campanelle pasta with chanterelles, corn, heirloom tomato and basil pistou. Emily Lenn, who was sitting beside me, called it, “summer on a plate!”

Next a Cotes du Rhone red wine blend.

To accompany grilled shrimp with Benton’s bacon, charred bok choi, green tomato and fermented tomato butter. Fabulous.

I was getting full and we were only halfway through. I thought maybe if I moved around and took some pictures, my appetite would return!

From left, Brad and Meredith Quillen with Emily and Jerry Lenn. Meredith is Joseph’s sister who lives in Georgia.

Allan and Sharon Benton pose with a drawing of Allan that hangs in J.C. Holdway’s dining room. He is a friend and mentor of Joseph and the bacon and ham he produces figure prominently in many of Chef Lenn’s dishes. “Southern Food Saint,” the drawing says!

The bride’s father, John Seery, Sr., left, and the groom’s father, Jerry Lenn.

A 2022 Averaen Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley was up next!

It was paired with mushroom-stuffed chicken breast with turnips, mushrooms, snap peas, lemon vinaigrette, and chicken jus. Dang, it was good!

A Portuguese red blend came next.

It was paired with Koji-cured New York strip steak with potato pave, grilled broccolini, and black truffle. Let me tell you, those potatoes were the best bite of the night! (Photo by Gerald Witt.)

The dads make a toast!

Cake cutting time!

The all-vanilla wedding cake and red velvet groom’s cake with J.C. Holdway stracciatella ice cream. My dessert-loving husband, Alan, was in heaven!

Laura with Carla Ferrari, her best friend from childhood.

Joseph and Laura Lenn during a break in the action.

But not for long! We were instructed to go outside.

And we were given sparklers!

The sparks flew!


Five hours later, I think everyone would agree it was one of the most memorable — and delicious — weddings we’ve ever attended!

Check out the next Blue Streak post for a look at the reception, which was held the following day. More well-known chefs, artists and local notables were there to celebrate!


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13 Responses to “Pip” marries “Joey Ovens!” Great food follows!

  1. Alan Carmichael, on June 13th, 2024 at 9:55 am said:

    It was over the top good.

  2. Gay Lyons, on June 13th, 2024 at 10:12 am said:

    Lovely!!! Can’t wait to see the photos from the reception, which Bill & I were honored to attend.

  3. Kathy Seery, on June 13th, 2024 at 10:47 am said:

    Everything was perfect! We were so honored to be a part of this day. Hugs to Pip and Joey!

  4. MaryPat Tyree, on June 13th, 2024 at 12:29 pm said:

    Congratulations to the lovely couple. Beautiful wedding. Wishing you much happiness.

  5. John seery, on June 13th, 2024 at 1:58 pm said:

    Love the headline! Makes me almost famous. lol. By the way my son named Joesph’s father
    “The Don” as in Don Jerry. I became his consigliere.
    What a great time and thank you for all the effort you put into chronicling this wonderful day.

  6. Emily Lenn, on June 13th, 2024 at 4:19 pm said:

    Cynthia, thank you for this beautiful tribute to Joseph and Laura! You did a magnificent job, as always, and we truly appreciate all the time and effort you spent making it special. We can’t wait to see the reception! Many, many thanks! ❤️

  7. Carol R. Lewis, on June 13th, 2024 at 6:00 pm said:

    WOW…I can see that it was FABULOUS….maybe even beyond words FABULOUS!!! Emily I want to see pictures sometime with you. CONGRATULATIONS
    Joseph and Laura…wonderful memories for a lifetime. Have a happy, fun, great, wonderful life together.GOD BLESS YOU TWO

  8. Julia Craze, on June 13th, 2024 at 7:28 pm said:

    Fantastic chronicles of the wedding day. So detailed you feel as if you were there and could taste the food and wine.
    Cynthia is amazing in reporting events.
    The following day’s event was also exceptional. Great times.

  9. Cynthia Moxley, on June 13th, 2024 at 8:42 pm said:

    Alan: Totally agree.

    Gay: Plan to post the reception report on Monday. You will be on it!

    Kathy: Look for yourself in the report on the reception. Got a good pic of you and John.

    Mary Pat: Thanks for reading!

    John: Thanks for giving me the headline! Your nicknames are awesome!

    Emily: It was so special. Loved sitting with you, of course. We always have so much fun!

    Carol and Julia: Thanks. Aren’t we lucky to have these two in our community?

  10. Joan Cronan, on June 13th, 2024 at 9:02 pm said:

    So special to have everything at JC Holdway! Everything was beautiful!

  11. Cynthia Moxley, on June 14th, 2024 at 11:25 am said:

    Joan: Agree! It must have been very handy to have your own restaurant available for the weekend of fun!

  12. Alan Williams, on June 18th, 2024 at 6:35 am said:

    Awesome, Awesome! Congratulations!

  13. Alice Mercer, on June 18th, 2024 at 9:00 am said:

    I’m so happy for two wonderful people! Your commentary in the Blue Streak was perfect, Cynthia!

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